Rainy season contributing to overly-saturated, unstable mining areas – GGMC cautions

The current rainy season is contributing to overly-saturated and unstable mining areas and as such, operators need to take extra precautions during this period.
This warning was issued on Tuesday by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in light of continued mining-related incidents, including fatalities.
The Natural Resources Ministry and GGMC issued a statement on Tuesday noting that in miners’ quest for financial gain and economic development, the importance of adequate safety measures should not, and must not, be overshadowed by the desire to achieve financial gain.
Specifically, the statement emphasised that special note must be taken of the fact that recent rainfall has contributed to hazardous conditions in mining areas as they become oversaturated, and therein unstable.
This, the Ministry said, underscores the critical importance of stringent safety measures, and the requirement for more restraint and caution to be exercised to avoid accidents.
The GGMC said it remained committed to working with miners and providing guidance to improve safe mining practices, and a collaborative approach must be continued by all stakeholders, to sensitise and educate miners about the need for safe mining practices.
Among these practices is the need for enhanced vigilance wherein there is continuous monitoring of the mining area and for operators and workers to be alert to changing conditions.
According to the GGMC, heavy rainfall can quickly alter the stability of mining slopes and faces. In this regard, the importance of regular site assessments was also underscored.
The statement outlined that operators should regularly conduct thorough assessments of mining sites, especially after heavy rains, to identify and address potential hazards such as landslides, flooding, and erosion.
Miners were also reminded to ensure that all safety equipment was in proper working order and that all personnel were trained in its use. Additionally, they were encouraged to maintain open lines of communication with GGMC officers and other relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, the Ministry contended that while focus was on mitigating risks during the ongoing rainy season, safety practices must be reinforced and maintained year-round, to prevent accidents and guard against the loss of lives.

Mining deaths
Guyana has recorded over five mining deaths for 2024, with the most recent incident claiming the life of dredge owner Timothy Fraser, also known as the “Mineral Boss”.
Fraser died in a mining pit collapse at Arakaka, North West District (NWD), Region One (Barima-Waini) on June 5.
While details regarding the incident are sketchy, Guyana Times was told that the miner’s body has since been retrieved from the site.
Four days prior, another miner was injured when a 17-foot pit wall collapsed at Matarkai. Nolan Leung was jetting inside the pit with a six-inch water pump near the wall when it gave way.
Leung was transported to the Port Kaituma District Hospital for treatment.
Just a week before this incident, another miner, Leon Lyken, lost his life at Frenchman Backdam in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). The 27-year-old from Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), was working with others when a section of the pit collapsed.
Lyken was trapped by the debris while his colleagues managed to escape, though one sustained a broken foot and other injuries.
More than a month before Lyken’s death, 47-year-old Stephen Mark Samuels of Karwap Mission, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), died in a pit collapse at Puruni Backdam, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
Samuels, who was employed by a Brazilian national, was working when the eastern wall of the pit caved in, burying him. His co-workers retrieved his lifeless body, and the Police, upon finding no signs of violence, transported it to the Puruni Health Centre, where he was pronounced dead.