Miner dies after pit caves in

Ryan Taylor

…Natural Resources Ministry orders thorough investigation

A MINER attached to Troy Resources Inc. died during the wee hours of Tuesday morning after the pit, in which he was working, caved in.

Dead is Ryan Taylor, 34, of Albert Street, Alberttown, Georgetown.
Reports are that the young man was working in the pit at the company’s operations in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni sometime after 02:00hrs when its walls collapsed, covering him with dirt. Efforts were then made to recover his body.

According to a release from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Minister Raphael Trotman has instructed the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to begin making the necessary preparations for a thorough investigation into the matter.
The ministry said a report will be compiled and submitted upon completion.
All work in the area of construction has been ordered ceased, pending the investigation.”The ministry continues to urge miners and companies to exercise extreme care when carrying out these operations,” the ministry said.

The ministry also urged stakeholders in the sector to comply with the relevant safety practices to evade any risks and fatalities.

Following the incident, current and former employees of the company reported that they have been complaining about the lax attention paid to safety practices at the mining site. “This was a time bomb waiting to explode. The environment was one of the most unsafe places I have ever been in,” former employee and friend of Taylor wrote on Facebook. He said the company is focused more on production rather than safety
Troy Resources, an Australian-based company, launched its operations here in 2013 at Karouni. Over the years, a number of miners met their demise as a result of pit cave-ins. The GGMC has been working to curb the occurrence by promoting high safety standards in the sector.

In a statement, Troy Resources Limited said it regrets the fatality at its Karouni Gold Mine. According to the company, early indications are that the incident occurred at 2:25hrs on the night shift where a geologist was standing above an excavated working face when the three-metre embankment he was standing on collapsed, and he suffered fatal injuries as a consequence.

Troy Managing Director, Mr. Ken Nilsson said, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic news and our heartfelt and sincerest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of our employee. We always make every effort to ensure the wellbeing of all of our people and this incident brings home the need for utmost vigilance in safety at all times. The company is in close contact with the family of the employee and is providing full support to the family at this time of loss.”

Mining operations at Karouni have currently been temporarily suspended and the company said it intends to bring a grief counsellor to help employees cope with this tragic loss. The company, along with the relevant authorities, has also promised to launch a full investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, the People’s United and General Workers Union (PU&GWU) is of the opinion that the industrial death is one too many and is pursuing immediate action from all quarters to investigate the circumstances surrounding this death, with a view to instituting preventative measures that would protect workers in similar circumstances.

“Ryan Taylor was not a member of the union however, as a worker subjected to the same conditions of labour as all others, his death highlights the importance of health and safety in the workplace,” the union said. According to union, Taylor has left to mourn three children, ages five, nine and 12. “This industrial death has robbed Taylor’s children the opportunity of growing into adulthood with him being there to father them. His home circle has lost a breadwinner. Accidents do not happen, they are caused therefore they are preventable. The worst impact is loss of life.” The PU&GWU said it will also be calling for an inquest consistent with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. “Letters will be dispatched to the subject Minister Amna Ally, Troy Resources, and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.”

For the union, this industrial death is even more impacting given the fact that last year, the union expressed concerns via engagement with the Occupation Health and Safety Department in the Ministry of Social Protection and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, about correcting perceived unsafe practices. “The nuion called for an investigation into the operations at Pataro. Management responded to the union’s representation by refusing to engage with the union over a considerable period of time. This relationship remains strained unto today. The company has since then even denied the union visitation rights to its plant and mines.”

PU&GWU extends its deepest condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Ryan Taylor. “We believe the best we can do under the circumstances in honour of him, outside of giving comfort and support to those he has left to grieve, is to ensure that no other employee suffers a fate similar to him and that all measures are put in place to correct and prevent any similar occurrences.”