Mining sector-related accidents are on a worrisome upward trend, according to a new report, which shows that 27 people lost their lives within the first five months of this year.
The Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr Ally Samaje, says besides the casualties, 46 people were injured in eleven accidents that were recorded between January and May – one of the highest in recent years.
“During the whole of 2016, the recorded number of deaths and injuries was 30 and 32. The latest figures, even before we are half-way the current year, indicates that local quarries are increasingly becoming death traps,” he said.
The Ministry of Energy and Minerals has embarked on a countrywide mission to train artisan miners on safety precautions in quarries. He said a session had been conducted at the Mirerani Mining Hills in Simanjiro District in Manyara Region.
Four people died in three accidents there so far this year. It was during the session that Mr Samaje painted the grim picture, and told quarry owners that the government won’t hesitate to close down and revoke the licences of those whose sites would be deemed to be unsafe.
The training programme covers the Northern, Central, Western, Lake-Victoria, Eastern, the Western Peninsula, Southern Highlands and Lake Nyasa zones.
Landslides, explosions, suffocation, electrocution and fire outbreaks are among the major causes of accidents. On his part, the Commissioner for Minerals, Engineer Benjamin Mchwampaka, has ordered all mines to have managers who must monitor the activities of mining pits closely, and ensure that accurate records of workers assigned in the basements are kept.
He remarked: “We have discovered that some of those engaged in the operations down there are casual labourers whose identity and number are unknown. This poses problems for rescue teams in the event of accidents.
” The Executive Secretary of Mirerani Artisan Miners Association, Mr Aboubakar Madiwa, proposed that training sessions at Simanjiro should be conducted at weekly intervals, because the hills host 593 small scale miners, and the figure keeps rising.
Meanwhile, Mugini Jacob reports that a new small gold mine has been closed indefinitely after claiming the life of an artisanal miner at Merenga village in Serengeti District, Mara Region.