PIRAN Resources Limited, a South African mining company based in Rwanda, has temporarily suspended mining activities in all its concessions citing “safety reasons”.
The decision to halt operations at the company’s cassiterite concession in Mwurire, follows the recent tunnel rock fall, which resulted in the entrapment of four workers for three days below the surface.
Chief Executive Officer of PIRAN, John Sanderson, said the recent incident, where the four miners survived miraculously, gave the company “a heads-up” to revise the safety of their concessions to prevent similar events from happening in the future, New Times reported.
“At the moment, we have temporarily suspended our mining activities at our concessions in Mwurire and Musha (both in Rwamagana). We want to first conduct a safety audit and risk assessments for the safety of miners,” Sanderson said.
Mwurire concession has operational since the colonial period, and is said to be having many tunnels, some of which are not known by miners.
It is said that lack of knowledge on the patterns of the concession was the cause of the recent incident, after one of the miners tried to remove an overhead stone, which was holding an unknown upper tunnel.
As part of the general safety and risk management, Sanderson said the company intended to invest more than $5 million to introduce mechanised mining (open cast mining) in which miners would also be trained.
“The team is at work… we want to have facts; for now, the mine is closed for the safety of staff. We don’t want to speculate,” he added.
He observed that the traditional methods of excavation and other non-mechanised practices exposed mine workers to risk.
The four miners were pulled out alive after 72 hours of being trapped in about 150 metres from the concession entrance and 20 metres deep. At least 150 people, including security personnel, residents and miners from Rutongo, worked 24-hours in shifts to drill the tunnel to rescue the miners, who were trapped after the tunnel collapsed and blocked their only exit.
Chief Inspector of Police, Thobald Kanamugire, the Police spokesperson for the Eastern region, said that the police were working with the miners to ensure risks are minimised or prevented.
Meanwhile, Sanderson said that a report by the joint inspection team, which was constituted, would be thoroughly assessed and would guide their safety and risk management in their concessions.