Nine miners who are part of a group of illegal miners who have taken over AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine, have been reported dead at the mine.
Their death follows serious injuries they sustained due to the hazardous working conditions at the mine.
Speaking to Citi Business News on the development, the General Manager & Managing Director of the Obuasi Mine, Eric Asubonteng called on the government to assist in upholding the law and return safety and security to the site before to avert further loss of life.
“We have had information on the untimely and unfortunate fatalities that are being experienced over there. Based on that we have informed the appropriate authorities and shared whatever information we have with them on the matter. Now it is up to them to take it up and see what to do next,” he explained.
Mr. Asubonteng added, “We don’t have access to the area where the illegal miners are operating but we know that whatever they are doing is causing damage to our underground infrastructure and obviously we know that the ore body is damaged considering the unregulated manner in which the illegal miners are mining which puts the underground structure at risk.”
Illegal miners intensify operations
The lack of meaningful intervention by Ghanaian authorities since the initial invasion of the site has emboldened the illegal miners to intensify their activities in an increasingly dangerous condition.
The incursion of illegal miners at the Obuasi began some five months ago following the withdrawal of military protection from the mine.
Eric Asubonteng also intimated that the mining company’s inability to access the mine makes them unable to tell the level of destruction being perpetuated by the illegal miners.
‘We can only be in a position to access the extent of the damage after law and order has been restored to the site but in the mean time; we know that the way the place is being mined by the illegal miners, the approach and the use of explosives are unregulated and enhance people are exposed, is a risk not only to the underground infrastructure but to the town Obuase as well. And because of that we have started seeing the incidents of accidents and so forth.” he observed.
Anglogold Ashanti drags Ghana to arbitration centre
AngloGold Ashanti has dragged 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.
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,
The mining firm says the continuous stay of the galamsey operators is impacting negatively on its operations and its optimized feasibility studies.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources assured Citi Business News of government’s commitment to clear the illegal miners from the company’s concession.
The Lands and Natural Resources ministry said it will not compromise on ensuring full protection of the investments of those who invest in the country.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Nii Osah Mills, said government will restore law and order to the Obuase mine soon.
“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 his mines by illegal miners and so forth.
But I can assure you that we as a government are 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”.
By: Norvan Acquah – Hayford/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana