Police said that the truck had been travelling with a police escort | P. BERGAS


The Spanish company that owned a truck that exploded and killed 13 people last month en route to an internationally-run gold mine in western Ghana violated storage and transport laws and has been fined $6 million, the lands ministry said on Tuesday.

The truck, owned by Maxam, was transporting explosives to the Chirano gold mine, run by Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation, when it collided with a motorbike, caught fire and exploded, levelling a roadside village and injuring at least 100 people.

Maxam, which has 140 subsidiaries in more than 50 countries, did not respond to emails or calls requesting comment.

"The Ministry has established regulatory breaches on the part of Maxam... in respect to the manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives," Ghana's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said in a statement.

It did not provide specific details about which laws were broken or how they contributed to the accident.

The government gave Maxam a $1 million administrative fine for breaching regulations and imposed a $5 million fee for damages to be paid out in monthly instalments, the statement said.

Two local firms, Jocyderk Logistics and Arthanns Enterprise and Transport Services, are being investigated for possible ties to the explosion, the ministry said. The actions of unspecified officials are also being reviewed.

Eight witnesses told Reuters at the time that the truck was on fire for 45 minutes before it exploded, in which time residents were allowed to walk to the scene to take photos and video without police or firemen holding them back.

They said that it was left to the truck driver to warn residents to leave the scene immediately.

Police said that the truck had been travelling with a police escort, which warned people to move away ahead of the blast.

The ministry at the time ordered the suspension of Ghana's chief inspector of mines, who is responsible for supervising explosives use in the sector.