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Mine firm given safety appraisal before deaths

An independent report found safety issues at the mining site of Mesco Gold highlighting concerns at Incline Shaft #1 and #2.
An independent report found safety issues at the mining site of Mesco Gold. Photo supplied

Mine firm given safety appraisal before deaths

A recent inspection at a mine site in Ratanakkiri province where two brothers died in a workplace accident last Friday had found safety concerns in the company’s mine shafts.

Experts with Cmi Capital Limited visited the site owned by Indian firm Mesco Gold in April and made recommendations in a June report. The assessment was carried out for Angkor Gold, which has royalty interest in Mesco Gold and was part of a disclosure requirement for traded companies in Canada.

The concerns pertained to two of the company’s incline shafts, not the vertical shaft in which the two workers died. One of the recommendations included installing an independent emergency stop system on the skips, or the cars that carry materials up and down the shaft.

Other recommendations included erecting a reinforced wall between the area in which workers travel and the skip-way, with access doors between them, to protect personnel from debris; installing bulkheads with doors at every 20 metres to stop any materials from rolling down the shaft; and fastening loose wires properly.

“In the event that these matters remain unresolved . . . access to the man-way should be restricted to emergency use only,” the report reads.

John C Menzies, one of the experts who wrote the report, said the company did not conduct a follow-up visit as the initial survey was their only “mandate”.

The two brothers, Chak Sarith, 17, and Chak Sarom, 20, were killed after climbing into a bucket meant for carrying rocks, which fell down the vertical shaft. Sarith was not of legal age to work in a mine.

Mesco Gold Director Rajeev Moudgil yesterday denied that there were safety issues in the incline shafts, and referred questions to General Manager Sudheer Gulwade.

Gulwade, however, conceded the company was “addressing safety issues”.

An anonymous company official also said Mesco Gold had been making safety improvements and the Ministry of Mines and Energy had inspected the site in July.

“We showed them everything,” he said. “They also gave us feedback.”

Part of the ministry’s feedback was to ensure that workers wear safety equipment, such as helmets, belts, masks and gloves, he said.

Mines ministry officials did not respond to a request for comment.

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