Govt blasts tin mine for lax operations

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Govt blasts tin mine for lax operations

SWAKOPMUND – Andrada Mining Limited, which is operating the Uis tin mine, has been criticised for not having all the requisite permissions and blasting equipment, as well as using the wrong explosives by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

The company intending to blast at Uis was last week ordered to remove the explosives and to rehabilitate the area, as they did not get the necessary approval from stakeholders. It is also due to the fact that the site is situated about 500 metres from residential areas.

The area was earmarked and prepared for blasting by the mine, but was found contravening the Explosives Act of 1995, the ministry stressed.

The company could not provide comment at the time of going to print.

The ministry’s decision comes after Uis residents, Telecom Namibia and the Roads Authority raised concern earlier this month over the proximity of the blasting site to the road, Telecom lines and the homes of residents.

Uis community activist Jimmy Areseb yesterday told New Era that the company is knowingly endangering the lives of residents, and is reluctant to follow due procedures as set out by the ministry. 

“The ignorance and negligence of important laws that are to be followed by the company has resulted in explosives being left in the ground without detonation from 24 May 2023. This is totally unacceptable,” he said yesterday. 

Areseb slammed these activities as posing a danger to the environment and residents, as the explosives have been set up a mere 18 kilometres from Uis.

“This is not far from the houses, graveyard, borehole and the main road. Why are these companies allowed to get away with murder?” he questioned.

Meanwhile, Telecom CEO Stanley Shanapinda indicated in a letter addressed to the chief inspector of mines, Mathew Amunghete, that the proposed blasting could potentially damage their infrastructure.

He then placed it on record that Telecom Namibia has not provided the required confirmation to the mine to proceed with blasting near the settlement of Uis.

“Nor is Telecom Namibia intending to provide such consent to any other entity if such mining operations bear the risk of damaging our telecommunications infrastructure. We, therefore, support and agree with your decision not to provide the Uis tin company written permission to execute blasting operations that are not compliant with the law,” Shanapinda said in the letter.

The letter addressed to Andrada Mining by the ministry states that the mine has no open-pit design and mine surveying plans for the proposed drilling site.

Amunghete emphasised that the proposed site for the blasting is within 500m of public infrastructure, and that no consent was given by the Roads Authority as well. He said the company is also not using the correct detonators, or a certified blaster.

“We have observed that you have used pyrotechnic detonators. In terms of the Explosives Act of 1956 (Act 26 of 1956), Section 10.17.3, the blaster shall use only instantaneous electric detonators, in conjunction with the detonating relays. The blaster, Abel Mburuu, is only in possession of a provisional blasting certificate for Trekkopje Mine, which means he is not allowed to perform blasting activities beyond Trekkopje Mine,” Amunghete points out.

He added that the company drilled and charged holes for the blast before obtaining approval from him, nor did they obtain permission from the Uis settlement council.

“Your company could not present a blasting foreman, as requested at the recent meeting with officials, as required by the Act. You also left explosives unguarded, which is in contravention of the law. From the above observations, it is clear that your company’s proposed blasting exercise is not in compliance with the law. It is against this background that I regret to inform you that the ministry is not in a position to provide you with written permission to execute the proposed blast or any other blast located within 500m from public infrastructure. You are directed to remove the explosives with immediate effect, and to treat the charged holes as misfires, as well as rehabilitate the area,” the ministry instructed.

The company indicated when contacted yesterday that they would respond within 24 hours to the questions sent by the newspaper.