News24

18 die in Ghana mine accident

2009-11-12 10:18

Accra - Eighteen miners, including 14 women, have been killed in a mine collapse in Ghana, a senior police officer said on Thursday.

The disaster occurred on Wednesday in a privately-owned mine in the West African nation, the world's second largest producer of gold.

"This is the biggest mining tragedy that has ever hit Ghana," said Kojo Antwi Tabi, police commander in the Western Region where the accident took place.

He said he believed that 30 miners were inside the mine in Dompoase town before it caved in, and that more bodies could be recovered.

"The government must take measures to control the activities of miners," he added.

Government attempts in past years to curb illegal or unlicensed mining have failed, and the Western Region representing the hub of the illicit business.

Mining is a major source of livelihood in the area and crucial to the national economy.

Many illegal miners - known as "galamsey" - are farmers evicted from their farms to make way for large-scale mining operations, or former mine employees who lost their jobs as a result of the greater use of machines in the industry.

Two people were buried alive last month when the gold mine in which they were working in Damang town, also in the same region, caved in.

Gold mining accounts for more than 90% of the country's total mineral exports, and last year revenues from gold stood at $2.2bn, according to figures released in June by the Ghana Chamber of Mines.