Second miner killed in Mowasi Backdam cave-in identified

The body of Shawn Anthony James after it was recovered

The second miner that was killed on Monday last when a pit in which he another miner were working in, at the Mowasi Backdam, Konawaruk, Potaro, caved-in, has now been identified as 35-year-old, Shawn Anthony James of Aishalton Village, Rupununi.

He along with 36-year-old, of Deon Sproston called ‘Jersey Joe’ of Lot 133 Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara (ECD) died at around 20:00h on Monday.

INews understands that the two deceased and other persons were working the walls of the pit with metal detectors searching for raw gold while the rain was said to be falling heavily.

While working, a large portion of the pit wall suddenly broke off and fell on both men, covering them with large stones and mud.

The other workers, who managed to escape unhurt, quickly sounded an alarm and with the aid of others who responded began to dig for the men.

The men were eventually pulled some two hours later and rushed to the Mahdia District Hospital but were pronounced dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, Head of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Newell Dennison, said as per routine, an investigation has been launched into Monday’s mining pit collapse that claimed the lives of the two miners.

Moreover, the Natural Resources Ministry had issued a statement indicating that subject Minister Raphael Trotman has ordered an investigation into the incident.

Additionally, the Ministry said it is in receipt of reports that suggested the men may have been conducting illegal mining in the area.

“Their deaths are as a result of a 20-foot deep pit caving in while they were on a mining concession conducting illegal mining activities. Reports coming to the Ministry suggests several persons illegally mine and raid the concession for raw gold by using metal detectors, spades and small engines, among other equipment. The Ministry continues to look into issues of illegal mining and land raiding and deters such acts,” the statement read, while expressing condolences to the families of the dead men.

GGMC Head Newell Dennison

On the issue of the legality of the mining operation, Dennison related that their investigation is yet to determine that, explaining that he would refrain from speculation.

“We haven’t completed the investigation by a far chalk to understand what the situation is on the ground to find out where the culpability could be and these things. So let’s not go there,” he said.

“Illegal mining is occurring all over Guyana and it’s a scourge of the sector and we have been desperately using our resources to try and curb that and have a better sense of order and conduct in the mining sector. So don’t let’s speculate beyond what it is about who’s culpable and what would happen to the owner and all those things. Those things are to be ascertained,” Dennison added.

These latest deaths have brought the mining death rate to seven for this year.


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