An explosion has rocked the rural mining community of Apiate, Ghana, after a truck carrying mining explosives bound for the Chirano gold mine, run by the Toronto-based Kinross, collided with a motorcycle.

The explosion led to the deaths of at least 17 people and injuries to more than 59. Footage from the scene showed a massive crater at the explosion’s epicentre, which reduced hundreds of buildings to rubble.

The police initially said that the mining explosives were heading from the Tarkwa gold mine run by Johannesburg-based Gold Fields, but a spokesman for Gold Fields said that the delivery was from an explosives company in the town of Tarkwa, not the Tarkwa mine.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo wrote on Twitter: “It is a truly sad, unfortunate, and tragic incident, and I extend, on behalf of the government, deep condolences to the families of the deceased, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery.”

Emergency services reported that they were continuing rescue efforts in the town, and most of the surviving victims had been rescued – many found trapped in collapsed homes and buildings.

The mine

The mining explosives were destined for the Chirano gold mine, an underground and open pit gold mine within the Bibiani gold belt. It is 90% owned by Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation. The Government of Ghana has a 10% carried interest.

The heavy explosives were to be used to break the rock to be trucked to the surface for processing through the mill. Despite the dangers associated with blasting in mining, the mining industry considers blasting an essential component for the success of their operations.