Tag Archives: Health and safety

Goldmine tragedy in Fiji

An aerial view of the Vatukoula Gold Mine outside Tavua.

An aerial view of the Vatukoula Gold Mine outside Tavua. Picture: VGML

Repeka Nasiko | Fiji Times | 3 January, 2019

A 47-year-old Chinese national died instantly after rocks fell on his head at a Vatukoula Gold Mine Ltd shaft last weekend.

Police Intelligence and Investigation chief ACP Vakacegu Toduadua said the accident occurred at the mining company’s Dolphin Shaft early Saturday, December 29, 2018.

“A rock fell on the head of a 47-year-old Chinese national who died instantly at the scene while a second 48-year-old Chinese national received injuries,” he said.

“Both were taken to Lautoka Hospital. “A post-mortem (examination) of the deceased has been completed and we have yet to receive the report from the Mineral Resources Department mine inspectors to ascertain the negligence part of the management.”

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources Department acting director Apete Soro said their officials were alerted of the fatal accident last Saturday.

“The ministry through the Mineral Resources Department was informed around 1:15 am of the accident which occurred an hour earlier,” he said.

“A team from the department, which included the manager of the mining division who is a mine engineer and his assistant, were mobilised to Vatukoula the same night and confirmed upon arrival that one male fatality and another male was admitted to Tavua Hospital.

“The latter was later transferred to Lautoka Hospital, but has since been discharged.”

He said an investigation by the department was in progress.

“The team are currently undertaking preliminary investigation which will then lead to the Board of Inquiry under the discretion of the Director of Mines.”

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Unauthorised Miners To Be Fined

Post Courier | September 27, 2018

The Mineral Resources Authority has started ridding unauthorized semi mechanized or mechanized mining in the country.

Unauthorized alluvial mining is predominant in the Wau and Bulolo areas of Morobe Province.

Illegal alluvial miners face a fine of up to K10,000 or prison term of up to four years.

Recently MRA issued 13 stop work notices to individuals engaged in the illegal activities in Wau and Bulolo.

MRA stated such activities are not only illegal but pose substantial environmental and safety risks to miners themselves and the surrounding communities.

MRA’s acting managing director Nathan Mosusu appealed to the miners to adhere to the regulatory requirements, which is part of MRA’s regulatory compliance responsibilities.

Mr Mosusu said MRA has in the past demonstrated its openness and commitment to developing the alluvial sector in collaboration with miners, but it is the miners’ obligation to ensure they operate in compliance.

“I am asking miners to work with MRA for the betterment of the sector. Together we can achieve results,” Mr Mosusu said.

The Mining Act 1992, section 167 states – a person shall not carry on exploration or mining on any land unless he is duly authorised under this Act.

The MRA said the deaths of alluvial miners from cave-ins caused by unauthorised mining activities, and failures to adhere to safety requirements have become common.

It said tunneling and sluicing as part of these unauthorised operations has damaged local roads especially between Wau and Bulolo.

The Wau and Bulolo areas have a long history of alluvial mining that dates back to the 1920s.

At present, there are 81 active alluvial mining tenements and 50 inactive historic tenements granted under the previous mining legislation.

The 50 historic tenements are yet to be converted to alluvial leases recognised under the current Mining Act 1992. Once converted, the terms of these converted tenements would then ensure key safety and environmental aspects of mining operations are regulated appropriately.

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Small-scale mining training a need

A family panning gold in the polluted Jaba river flowing from Panguna copper mine. Photo: Friedrich Stark

Erebiri Zurenuoc | The National aka The Loggers Times | August 20, 2018

THE need for more small-scale mining training centres has been highlighted during the recent alluvial mining convention and tradeshow held in Lae.

Alluvial mining schools established in all four regions of PNG will cater for small-scale miners and developers in the industry who are not aware of the requirements.

There is currently only one training centre established by Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) and that one is in Wau, Morobe.

Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke highlighted the need for more training centres but also said there were many challenges to that.

“The budget has already closed but we still need to make sure this happens through a submission,” he said.

“This will happen only if there is support of politicians and governments of alluvial mining areas.

“The funds can go to MRA.

“MRA can manage it for the sake of our alluvial miners around the country.

“Our locals must be encouraged to take part in the alluvial mining sector.

“We need to establish one training centre, possibly at Kainantu, one in Alotau and another in Kavieng or Namatanai.

“We need to provide incentives for our local miners.

“Most of our local communities are engaged in this activity and we must be mindful of our environment too.”
Bulolo MP and Government minister Sam Basil also supported the idea.

“For alluvial mining and training programmes, similar set-ups like the training centre in Wau must be established in regional centres to accommodate the demands of the alluvial mining regions,” he said.

Alluvial miners need to be properly trained on the use of mercury, occupational health and safety, and social issues such as child labour, drugs, HIV and AIDS and gender.

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Institutions Should Include Alluvial Mining Training, Says Basil

alluvial miners at work

Alluvial miners at work on Bougainville

Jerry Sefe | Post Courier | August 17, 2018

Major tertiary institutions in the country must be given the opportunity to involve facilitating trainings and safety regulation in the alluvial mining sector.

Member for Bulolo and Minister for Information and Communications Technology and Energy Sam Basil made the call to the Mineral Resources Authority on Tuesday during day one of its 4th Alluvial Mining and Tradeshow convention held in Lae.

“I want to encourage MRA involve our research and tertiary institutions including University of Papua New Guinea, PNG University of Technology and University of Natural Resource and Environment in our collaborative efforts in alluvial mining and the environmental impacts and safety,” said Mr Basil.

Basil said these institutions are academically and professionally equipped with knowledge, expertise and innovations to expand the sector and in this partnership the country can make a difference in challenging times when resource scarcity and sustainability is concerned.

He said the challenges of the alluvial mining observed from in Bulolo district is the safety aspects that needs to be more regulated when unsafe practices are becoming an increasing concern especially with miners using the underground mining techniques where they dig through tunnels.

“This has resulted in numerous deaths over the years. This is because of the alluvial resource knowledge has always been a barrier in advancing the alluvial mining operations” said Mr Basil.

Basil said it is a must that all concerned stakeholders join forces and embrace the new developments in this era of alluvial mining because the alluvial mining sector is owned by Papua New Guineans using downstream processing.

“This area must be carefully considered because it has a high potential to enhance multiple revenue streams through maximum participation of our rural populace.”

He said MRA as the concerned regulator must strive in its efforts in maintaining safety practices within the alluvial mining communities.

Basil added that environmental compliance is another issue that must be strictly regulated by the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) however mentioned that CEPA are yet to be fully aware of what is happening within the alluvial mining sector.

“I am aware of the financial requirements of the sector in supporting alluvial miners therefore as local MP for Bulolo we will be fully supporting our local miners through our district development authority” he said.

Meanwhile, the minister also commended MRA’s initiative in the alluvial resource mapping programs currently taking place in Bulolo to build the resource inventory of the district.

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Mercury puts gold miners at risk of heart attack

Hezron Kising | The National aka The Loggers Times | 28 June 2018

Small-scale gold miners who directly handle mercury while extracting gold have a greater risk of developing heart disease, a study reveals.

Michael Kiapulkalow, a senior environmental science lecturer at University of PNG, said mercury and its compounds were highly toxic and had adverse effects on human health, wildlife and the environment.

He said this during a workshop on chemical and waste management by Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA).

This was in regard to thousands of artisanal small-scale gold mining activities throughout the country where people were exposed to chemicals that could harm them.

“Mercury is highly toxic, causing damage to the nervous system at even relatively low levels of exposure” Kiapulkalow said.

“In Wau-Bulolo district in Morobe and Misima Island in Milne Bay, hundreds of people have been exposed to mercury and will encounter long-term health problems.

“It is particularly harmful to the development of unborn children if a pregnant women is exposed or involved.

“Mercury usually collects in human and animal bodies and can be concentrated through the food chain, especially in certain types of fish. Women who are breastfeeding or might become pregnant should limit their interaction in and around those small scale gold mining areas, since there is high amount of mercury concentration released into the environment.

“It’s generally anticipated that the artisanal small-scale gold mining sector has more mercury releases into the environment than the large operating mines.”

Kiapulkalow said CEPA had implemented a convention with the national government to address the issue by putting in place the Minamata Convention (MC).

“MC is a global treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from the adverse impacts of mercury and its compounds,” he said.

“PNG was not able to sign the MC and is currently not a party to the MC.

“There is currently a joint National Executive Council submission between Foreign Affairs Department and CEPA for PNG to accede to the MC.

“PNG will look to becoming a party to the Minamata Convention in 2019.

“That will protect human health and environment from the risks posed by unintentional and intentional emissions and releases, unsound use and management of mercury.”

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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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