Truck Hauling Explosives in Ghana Detonates, Killing 13

A truck hauling blasting agents and operated by Maxam Ghana Ltd. in western Ghana collided with a motorcycle on Thursday, January 20, setting off an explosion that leveled buildings, killed 13 people and injured more than 100 in the village of Apiate.

The Ghana police responded and most of the victims were rescued and sent to various hospitals and clinics within the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region. The police advised residents to move out of Apiate to nearby towns. They also made an appeal to nearby towns to open up their classrooms, churches, etc., to accommodate survivors. The Ghana National Fire Service, National Disaster Management Organization and the Ambulance Service assisted with care for the injured and recovery efforts.

According to the Ghana Police Dept., the truck was hauling more than 10 tons of an ammonium nitrate/fuel oil (ANFO) mixture to AngloGold Ashanti’s Iduapriem mine. Following a directive by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor, the western regional inspector of mines, has in accordance with an order from the CEO of Minerals Commission, shut down operations of Maxam Co. Ltd. on January 22.

Ghana has fined Maxam Ghana Ltd. $6 million for regulatory breaches regarding the manufacturing, storingand transporting blasting agents. Jinapour in a press statement said the breaches had been identified by a three-member government committe investigating the incident. The penalties for a breach of this nature would be a maximum of $10,000, but Jinapour said the fine more accurately reflects “the nature and totality of the circumstances leading to this tragic incident.” Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo expressed his condolences and said the government “will spare no effort to ensure a rapid return to a situation of normalcy for residents of Apiate.”

Gold Fields, which owns the Tarkwa mine in that region, offered its support and mobilized a number of resources, including tents, food and equipment to the community. “We are saddened by the disaster at Apiate and have noted the devastating effect the explosion has had in the community,” Executive Vice President and Head of West Africa Joshua Mortoti said. “We offer support to authorities and the people of the community. We are ready to assist in any way we can.”

According to Africa News, the Lands Minister has now set 14 conditions to be met by the company before restoring their permit, including a ban on ANFO transport on public roads unless expressly permitted by the Chief Inspector of Mines. Other measures include explosives being guarded by two escort vehicles, one in front and one at the back, both having sirens to warn people about the explosives. The company is to notify the Chief Inspector of Mines of their intention to transport explosives 48 hours before the scheduled transportation.

According to the minister, the 14 measures apply fully to all companies involved in manufacturing, supply, transportation, and use of explosives. Maxam Ghana Ltd. in a statement, however, denied breaching mining regulations, but committed to paying the government’s $6 million fine.

“Based on a different interpretation of the applicable regulations, we believe that Maxam has not committed any of those breaches, however, to ensure the continuity of the business, to be able to supply our customers, to protect the employment of our workers and sub-contractors, Maxam has decided to pay the fine and will comply with the measures of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.”

As featured in Womp 2022 Vol 02 -