The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has assured Anglogold Ashanti Ghana of its commitment to clear illegal miners from the company’s Obuasi concession.
According to the ministry government will not compromise in ensuring full protection of investors in Ghana.
Speaking at the 88th Annual General Meeting of the Chamber of Mines, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Nii Osah Mills, said government will restore law and order to the Obuase mine soon.
[contextly_sidebar id=”eh3ERIGRvzIUMrsv316d5pZ4XfbtuSY3″]“Anglogold Ashanti has commenced and I’m sure you are all aware of this arbitration procedure against Ghana at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) citing an invasion of its mines by illegal miners and so forth.
But I can assure you that government is concerned. We are concerned, we are looking at ways to address the situation and we haven’t given up and I can assure all of you.
I know you are concerned and we would like to have every mine operated within total security and for you to fill that your investments are safe”.
The assurance comes after Ghana was dragged to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) following the country’s inability to restore law and order at the Anglogold Obuasi mine which has been taken over by galamsey operators.
Senior Vice President in charge of Investor Relations and Group Communications at AngloGold Ashanti Stewart Bailey in an exclusive interview with 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.
A former Attorney General, Ayikoi Otoo earlier told Citi Business News he feels the company may have gone too far with its decision to involve the ICSID given its contract with government contained no such provisions.
“It is surprising that such a matter should be going to international arbitration. If the contract says that in the event of a misunderstanding, the matter ought to be referred to international arbitration, then so be it if they think there is sufficient misunderstanding. But otherwise, it is more to do with some criminality.”
Mr. Ayikoi Otoo instead suggested that this should have been handled as “more of an internal matter” adding that AngloGold could have turned to the security agencies for support in dealing with the issues of encroachment. According to him, “If it is just some galamsey disturbing them, which by definition is not more than illegal mining in somebody’s concession and if the concessionaire alone cannot act then he calls on the security agencies to clear of those persons.”
The takeover of the Obuasi mine by the galamsey operators Citi Business News understands is impacting negatively on AngloGold’s operations and its optimized feasibility studies.
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana had to suspend its 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 were laid off and paid severance packages as mandated by law and in accordance with relevant Collective Agreements and Employment Contracts.
By: Norvan Acquah – Hayford/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana