Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Confidential report blames Debswana management for fatal mine accident

An investigation into the 2012 Jwaneng Mine fatal accident has revealed that the accident could have been avoided had the mine management followed safety procedures. The investigation report compiled by the Department of Mines which has been leaked to The Sunday Standard states that the root cause of the accident was “failure by senior management to ensure that matters requiring their attention are brought to them to take appropriate action as provided in the Mines, Quarries, Works and Machinery Regulations, regulation 17(8) and 567(3).”

The report further revealed administrative problems in the supervision of slope monitoring, reduced effectiveness of slope monitoring instruments and apathetic approach of geotechnical section to information availed by consultants and the manufacturer of SSR.

The report revealed insubordination and poor work ethic. Some engineers refused to do their job claiming that they were not trained in certain fields when in actual fact they had the necessary skills.

There were also no records made of instability in the mine. “Both the Geotechnical manager and the managers appointed to assist the appointee under Mines, Quarries, Works and Machinery regulations, did not note the recording and countersigned. Matters requiring attention went unnoticed. On 23/06/12, Mr. Raseiteo, who was killed in the mine accident recorded in the foreman log book: “be aware of falling rocks.”

Mr Pabalelo as 9(4) appointee did not examine that entry. The slope instability hazard map 2012- May reported that planar rock slides continued to fall on the degraded shales. Mr Raseiteo most likely, when he logged, referred to planar rock slide on the area that later collapsed and caused the accident that killed him.

The report say the slope instability had been observed for the previous three years and the mine responded by changing the pattern of blasting but failed to monitor the deformation for each blast.

“Since the geotechnical engineers had not been observing deformation for each blast conducted, they did not see the exponential deformation displayed on the SSRA graph. Omitting to observe deformation during the blasts and for each blast conducted on 26, 27 and 28 June 2012 proved fatal.”

The report says during the inspection carried out by the Department of Mines earlier in the year, it was observed that managers did not enter their findings in the logbook and there was an instruction for rectification.

“The grader operator testified that he had regularly cleaned the ramp on which the collapsed ground trapped Mr. Raseiteo. He also testified that he had a few minutes before the collapse occurred cleaned the area. It would appear the recording “Be aware of the rock falls” by Mr. Raseiteo as a 17(1) appointee made in the foreman logbook referred to the same area. The 9(4) appointee Mr Pabalelo neither noted the recordings nor made effort to contact Mr. Raseiteo to confirm the area where rocks were frequently falling or were likely to fall days before the accident. Mr Pabalelo also testified that a few days before the accident and on the day of the accident he never met Raseiteo. Had Mr. Pabalelo taken the recordings in the logbook seriously the looming slope failure could have been brought to the attention of the other mine officials including the manager.”

Efforts to contact Debwana Group Manager (Public and Corporate Affairs) Esther Kanaimba-Senai Kanaimba were futile at the time of going to press. It remains unclear whether action has been taken against managers who were derelict in their duties.


Read this week's paper