Tag Archives: Health and safety

VGM awaits board of inquiry results in Fiji

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | 15 May, 2018

ANY steps that could be taken to increase safety at Vatukoula Gold Mines PLC (VGM) will be highlighted during a board of inquiry into the death of Avinesh Ram, a miner who allegedly lost his life during an underground incident last week Wednesday.

This was the word from VGM corporate services manager and special adviser to general manager Dinny Laufenboeck in response to questions raised by this newspaper.

“A board of inquiry under the chairmanship of an independent official appointed by the Mineral Resources Department continues into the fatality which occurred underground at the Vatukoula Gold Mines on May 2, 2018,” she said.

“As this is a legal process mandated by the Mining Act, please address any requests for information to the PS (permanent secretary) for Lands and Mineral Resources.

“Recommendations on what more VGM could do in managing risk to employees at Vatukoula will be provided as an outcome from the board of inquiry.”

Mr Ram allegedly died after he fell into a sinkhole in the R1 underground shaft on May 2 and became trapped under 20m of rock and soil.

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Fiji mine tragedy, man dies

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | 3 May, 2018

A 38-YEAR-OLD man is dead after an alleged incident at the Vatukoula Gold Mine yesterday. When this edition went to press last night, police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said attempts to recover the victim’s body was still underway.

VGML corporate services manager Dinny Laufenboeck said a rock fall occurred in the R1 shaft underground and emergency rescue teams and the mine general manager were at the site.

It is understood the incident happened at about midday yesterday.

The Mineral Resources Department had closed underground mining operations in April last year after a series of accidents and death of a worker.

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Another ‘World Class’ mining company disaster

The structure that caused the death of six Newmont Ghana staff

Newmont suspends all mining operations in Ghana indefinitely over deaths

GhanaWeb | 9 April 2018

Mining giant Newmont Ghana Limited has indefinitely suspended mining activities at all its sites in the country as investigations into the death of six of the firm’s subcontractor staff takes shape.

Six persons, all contractor employees of the construction services company, Consar Limited, died when the roof of a reclaim tunnel at the Ahafo Mill Expansion project, which is under construction, collapsed on them Saturday.

Two others who were with the six, escaped with minor injuries. They have since been treated and discharged.

The bodies of the six have since Sunday morning been retrieved from the tunnel, TV3’s Kwabena Adu-Gyamfi who is at the site at Kenyasi in the Brong Ahafo region reported.

Newmont, which commenced operation in Ghana in 2006 currently, operates two main mining sites at Akyem and Ahafo in the Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions respectively.

Following the Saturday freak accident, the company ceased mining operations at the Ahafo site in solidarity with the victims and their families as well as colleagues.

But at a meeting with the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources who visited the scene of the accident, acting Mines Manager at the Ahafo Mines, Okyere Yaw Ntram revealed the Akyem mine has also suspended operations.

“Our sister company in Akyem have also stopped operations. They suspended operation in solidarity with us until we resume back to work when the place is safe,” he told the Minister.

Though the suspension could potentially affect the production of the company and its revenue, Mr. Ntram told journalists “money is not of the essence now” as the company is focusing on empathising with the families and the employees.

“I think at this stage the important thing is to empathise with the deceased and their family and the communities and the employees that worked close with them,” he added.

What caused the accident?

The cause of the accident is yet to be established but it is suspected to be the result of a structural defect.

Fresh concrete that was being cast on the roof of the tunnel collapsed on the eight-member crew working in the tunnel at the time, thus trapping them in the process.

Initial attempts by some other workers around to rescue them from the mortar proved futile “due to the extremely large quantity of the mixture”, one of our correspondents reported.

John Peter Amewu, minister for Lands and Natural Resources who visited the scene Sunday morning blamed the accident on a “complete structural failure”

Though he said investigations are ongoing, he said, “It is clear that the props that support the slabs probably might not be well placed and that could trigger… the surface slab to cave in; over 1000 cubic metres of concrete”.

Investigations

Meanwhile, the Minerals Commission has been commissioned to lead the investigations into the accident.

It will have about two weeks to present its findings on the accident.

The accident scene has been taken over by the Minerals Commission , which is expected to among other things, establish what really happened and whether there were any breaches of safety regulations.

The investigative team is also expected to go into the structural design of the facility which collapsed to establish whether the roof was designed to take the about 1000 cubic metres of concrete.

Any sanctions against Newmont?

Mr. Amewu noted it was early to be talking about sanctions against the mining firm, which he said, is one of the mining companies in the country that is very concerned about high safety measures.

However, he said, “If negligence are detected, the law is there, and the law would have to be applied.”

“From what we are hearing if it is true that they asked workers to go beneath to find out what is happening because they detected that some structural unsoundness happened so the workers had to come down. If that is true, then actually something wrong might have happened” he said but added he wouldn’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigations.

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Crater Mountain set for restart

Australian Mining | March 9, 2018 

Crater Gold Mining has received approval from the Mineral Resources Authority of Papua New Guinea to restart operations at the Crater Mountain project.

A new mine plan has been approved by PNG’s chief mines inspector following months of work by Crater Gold’s in-country management team.

According to Crater Gold, two inspections of the site, associated facilities and mining equipment have been carried out by the mine safety inspection team.

Crater Gold and the authority have also agreed to a schedule of ongoing improvements at the site.

Russ Parker, Crater Gold managing director, said the company worked hard to overcome obstacles of the past at Crater Mountain.

“We now look forward to driving this project along the right road and generating income from mining operations as soon as possible,” Parker said.

“Work has already resumed on the development of the 1930 level adit and mining has kicked off in the 1960 level.

“In addition, a drilling programme will be implemented forthwith. We must also thank the chief inspector of mines and his team for their helpful support throughout the process.”

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Ramu NiCo shuts down equipment for serious maintenance work

Poor workmanship and shoody construction has hampered the Ramu nickel mine

The National aka The Loggers Times | January 23, 2018

Maintenance work on high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) of train one at Ramu Nico’s Basamuk Refinery is going on. Work started on Jan 11 and is scheduled to end on Friday.

Ramu Nico company said the maintenance shutdown was to thoroughly maintain the system, eliminate potential system deficits and test the integrity of the equipment within HPAL.

More than 500 workers, both Chinese and PNG national employees of Ramu NiCo and external vendors, are involved in shutdown maintenance activities.

Safety officers from Ramu NiCo’s health safety and environment department are monitoring the maintenance work.

The maintenance shutdown would enable stable and prolonged production output for next year.

This is now consistent for Ramu NiCo autoclaves, enabling proactive forecasting of production rates and effective planning of major equipment turnarounds.

Ramu NiCo Basamuk HPAL process has three trains which are a vital component of the nickel/cobalt project in Madang.
The three HPAL circuits are key components to the safe production at Basamuk.

Shutdown maintenance is carried out periodically with each high-pressure acid leaching circuit enjoying a 15-day annual overall, staggered throughout the year.

The planned overhaul focused on autoclave scale removal, including integrity checks of equipment and statutory requirements in relation to pressure vessels and valves.

The maintenance and repair of each auxiliary system is carried out according to planned schedules, including acid-producing plants and boilers.

The Basamuk high-pressure acid leaching processing department applies operational principles of compliance in safety and operation at high efficiency, including undertaking of stable and proper maintenance at Basamuk processing site.

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Mercury kit study work for small-scale miners

alluvial miners at work

Alluvial miners at work on Bougainville

ONE PNG  | 15 January 2018

A recent mercury research study conducted at the small scale mining branch in Wau, Morobe Province is a collaborative work between the mining engineering department of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) through its small scale mining branch and the University of Kyoto-Japan through the leadership of Professor Takaiku Yamamoto, has released its findings.

The use of mercury has become very popular among artisanal and small scale miners because amalgamation is known to efficiently extract fine particles of gold from concentrates obtained by panning and sluicing operations. Gold alloys with mercury to form an amalgam from which the gold can subsequently be separated by evaporating the mercury.

The simplicity of the technique, low investment costs and its comparatively high gold recovery rate has made the mercury amalgam method an integral part of the artisanal and small scale gold mining operations.

In Papua New Guinea, most of the gold deposits worked by the artisanal and small scale gold miners are alluvial deposits in which the gold particles are liberated from gangue particles. It is customary to use riffled sluice-boxes to recover the liberated gold particles.

However, some of the gold particles, particularly the fine gold, does not settle in the riffle compartments but flows over to be discarded as tailings. In the hope of trapping these fine gold particles the artisanal miners frequently place some mercury in between the riffle compartments.

Then in recent years some semi-mechanised and mechanised alluvial mining operations used grinding mills or amalgam barrels for amalgamation of concentrates derived from their recovery systems before putting it through the knelson concentrators or shaking tables for cleaning.

Due to shear force between centrifugal force and drag force in knelson concentrators or the stratification action of the shaking tables, mercury is easily dislodged from the gold and is lost to the tailings. This is because the bonding mechanism holding gold and mercury together is weak and doesn’t require much force to sever the gold particles from the mercury, and because of size and density differences, mercury ends up in the tailings and eventually in the river systems.

However, by far the most dangerous practice adopted by the miners is the gold recovery process from the gold mercury amalgams. Gold is recovered by evaporating the mercury from the amalgam over an open fire

This process is commonly known as “cooking.” The mercury vapour, which includes fine globules, is partly inhaled while the remainder is released into the atmosphere, which returns as part of the “mercury cycle.”

Methods introduced to avoid the practice of releasing mercury into the atmosphere and which can reduce the mercury loss to less than 0.1 per cent are available but have not been so popular amongst miners due to the discolouring effect on the gold after distillation in a retort.

This discolouration is caused by the presence of iron and arsenic compounds and results in a lower price being offered by gold buyers for the product.

One such device is the “Mercury Retort” which evaporates the mercury in a closed cycle and recovers it by condensing the vapour with cooling water.

Mercury is toxic and an environmental pollutant which drew world attention in 1953 after it was reported that a large number of people living in the Minamata bay area in Japan developed symptoms of disease which affected their central nervous system after consuming fish.

The fish in the bay were contaminated with methyl-mercury as a result of mercury being released into the bay by the Chisso Corporation, a chemical company operating on the shores of the bay. The mercury poisoning was responsible for a variety of clinical symptoms which included speech impediments, failure of muscular coordination, and contraction of visual fields in the eye, disturbance in smooth eyeball movements, enteral hearing loss and unbalance of body. The disease is now commonly known as the “Minamata Disease.”

The recent study conducted at theMRA small scale mining branch in Wau was a collaborative work between the mining engineering department of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology, the University of Kyoto-Japan and the small scale miners in Wau/Bulolo was to trial a an Amalgam retorting machine from Kyoto University-Japan.

The objective was to test run the Japanese mercury recovery kit, a prototype amalgam retorting machine for the recovery of mercury and critically assess the overall performance, its efficiency and ease of operation of the device.

The promotion and use of the retorts would be very beneficial in the long term as they are capable of reducing discharge of mercury vapour into the atmosphere and the environment. It can also recover bulk of the mercury for recycling which would be a potential economic gain for the small scale miners and the chances of them being poisoned can be minimized through the establishment of central facilities in alluvial mining active areas which will alleviate the more dangerous practice of ‘cooking” amalgams.

A batch of mercury gold amalgam samples were provided by the miners from around Wau/Bulolo mining areas for over a period of one week to conduct the research activity by retorting them in the furnace at four different temperatures (300-500 OC, 300-600 OC, 300-700 OC ,300-800 OC) and the mercury recovery results observed ,recorded and calculated.

From this activity, it is noted that mercury which was emitted during the process was mostly trapped in the condensers 1 and 2.

The carbon filter indicated zero mercury which concludes that the air released at the vacuum pump has zero mercury vapour.

From the results obtained, the research team concluded after careful assessment of the overall performance and efficiency of the mercury recovery kit that it is an appropriate technology and should be promoted and used in Papua New Guinea’s artisanal and small scale gold mining industry for mercury and recycling recovery.

MRA managing director, Philip Samar, who was instrumental in introducing the technology, said the purpose of this collaboration was to reduce and mitigate the increased use and disposal of mercury into the environment and increase alluvial gold production, resulting in the health of both the environment and people plus improving the wellbeing of ordinary PNG alluvial miners.

The MRA through its small scale mining branch in Wau would like to thank its research partners for the collaborative work undertaken.

This has set a milestone in being proactive in reducing and controlling mercury contamination to the environment and the users in the artisanal and small scale mining industry.

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Harmony Gold achieves fatality free quarter in SA and Papua New Guinea

Harmony Gold Mining’s Kusasalethu mine in South Africa

If a fatality free quarter is a ‘milestone’, how many deaths are normally recorded?

Harmony Gold Mining has announced that its South African and Papua New Guinean operations achieved a milestone fatality free quarter during the June 2017 quarter.

Mining Review Africa | 14 July 2017

Harmony gold’s gold production for the 30 June 2017 financial year is estimated to be 1.088 million oz, which exceeds production guidance of 1.05 million oz. Underground recovered grade increased for a fifth consecutive year to 5.07 g/t.

“We will continue to focus on increasing cash margins through safe, predictable and profitable production” says Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony.

Harmony will announce its operating and financial results for the year ended 30 June, 2017 on Thursday 17 August 2017, during a live presentation at the Hilton Hotel, Sandton, at 09h00 South African time.

In October last year Harmony Gold completed the acquisition of Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea.

The Hidden Valley mine is an open pit gold and silver mine, jointly owned and managed as part of the joint venture between Harmony and Newcrest Mining.

The mine is situated in the highly prospective area of the Morobe province in Papua New Guinea, some 210 km northwest of Port Moresby.

The major gold and silver deposits of the Morobe goldfield and Hidden Valley are hosted in the Wau Graben.

The Hidden Valley-Kaveroi and Hamata pits, located approximately 6 km apart, are in operation.

Ore mined is also treated at the Hidden Valley processing plant.

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