Mining giant AngloGold Ashanti has justified dragging Ghana to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), following the country’s inability to restore law and order at the Obuasi mine which has been taken over by galamsey operators.
The mining firm argues the takeover of its Obuasi mine by the galamsey operators is impacting negatively on its operations and its optimized feasibility studies.
Senior Vice President in charge of Investor Relations and Group Communications at AngloGold Ashanti Stewart Bailey speaking exclusively to Citi Business News said the company had no choice but to drag Ghana to the centre.
“Obviously it was not an easy decision to make and it wouldn’t have been our preferred action. But I think that after more than three months of trying to get the situation resolved with government officials we have not seen any resolution,”
“Unfortunately, we had to go back to our mining permit and as it sits at the moment, the permit provides this as the dispute resolution mechanism. So we were left with no other option at this point other than to seek a resolution by a third party,” he explained.
Mr. Bailey added that the move is also to allow the company access its Obuasi mine,
“So our primary objective here is to get full access back to the mine. This is because we have no idea what is happening on site, there could be some speculations but since we haven’t had free access to large portions of the site, the best thing we want to do is to get full access back to the site. That is our principal objective through the arbitration.”
The situation Citi Business News understands has resulted in the remaining employees of AngloGold performing critical services related to the operation of underground water pumping, environmental and potable water treatment, provision of medical services, and maintenance of facilities that provide power and water to employees’ homes and surrounding communities.
In February this year, hundreds of illegal miners forced their way inside the fenced area of the Obuasi mine.
The incursions lead to the death of a senior management staff- John Owusu, when the company tried to ward off the illegal miners.
The development comes after the mining firm had ceded off 60 percent of its Obuasi mine to government.
The Chief Executive Officer of AngloGold Ashanti Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan in an earlier interview with Citi Business News urged government to flash out illegal miners occupying the Obuasi concession as their operations impacted negatively on Ghana as an investment destination.
Meanwhile Citi Business News has gathered that the Attorney General and all other relevant authorities have been duly notified of the commencement of proceedings after the case was registered on May 2, 2016 at the International Arbitration Institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Despite these developments, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana’s current operational cost has not been affected as the site was not forecast to be in production for at least this year.
AngloGold Ashanti hopes that the commencement of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes proceedings will expedite the reinstatement of law and order at the mine.
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana suspended underground mining operations at the Obuasi Mine at the end of 2014 after incurring heavy financial losses over several years.
Hundreds of the mining company’s employees have been laid off and equally paid severance packages as mandated by law and in accordance with relevant Collective Agreements and Employment Contracts.
By: Norvan Acquah – Hayford/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana