September 24, 2016

1 killed after Mahdia mining pit collapses

Rescuers at Mowasi/Pepper Creek where 10 miners were buried alive in May 2015

Rescuers at Mowasi/Pepper Creek where 10 miners were buried alive in May 2015

A 19-year-old miner was on Monday afternoon killed at Konawaruk, Mahdia, Backdam, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), after the mining pit in which he was working collapsed, pinning him under slush, law enforcement authorities have confirmed.

Dead is Trenton Sebastian of Kurukubaru, also in Region Eight.

Reports are that about 15:30h on Monday, Sebastian and four other miners were washing the walls of the mine while simultaneously, other miners were also clearing the area of trees, when one of the walls of the pit caved in and pinned the teenager under the soil.

The mine in which the incident took place is said to be owned by Sherwin Grenada. Investigators from the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have been dispatched to the area.

Illegal operation

Meanwhile, the GGMC in a statement Monday, said that the mining operation where the incident occurred was operating without the requisite approval.

“It was also reported that the dredge was operating on property without permission and for which an order to cease work (CWO) was issued,” the GGMC stated.

The GGMC says the accident comes at a time when as recent as the mid-February 2016, it conducted Mines Safety Compliance Tour in the Potaro and Konawaruk areas, where several CWOs were issued due to unsafe operations in the Mahdia Redhole, Whitehole and St Elizabeth areas.

The GGMC added that despite regulatory compliance tours by its officers in the Cuyuni District, “miners continued to have a casual attitude to safe mines practices.”

Region Eight has seen its fair share of deadly mining pit collapses over the years.

Mining deaths CoI

A mining pit collapse at Mowasi Backdam, Region Eight, which claimed the lives of 10 miners back in May 2015, led President David Granger to establish a Commission of Inquiry to probe mining accidents.

The report highlighted that there have been, over a 15-month period, 28 deaths, most of them coming from pitfall cave-ins.

It revealed that from 2012 to 2015, 62 miners, particularly young men, lost their lives on the job.

These accidents were said to be caused by negligence; especially with regards to safe mining practices, including shortcuts taken by workers, who sometimes treasured their finds over their own lives.

The CoI determined there was a pervading culture of laxness towards safety and that clear rules must be applied and enforced.


The report recommended that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) institute the proper framework in order to decrease the number of future accidents.

It was revealed that whenever an accident occurred, the available emergency mechanism – the search and rescue and recovery – was inadequate and would need proper definition and manning.

The report also stated that there was poor reporting of these accidents and most times, the GGMC would act on a report heard or seen in parts of the media.

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