galamseyersStory by Delalie Kudiabor/Spyghana.com

 

In spite of the complimentary effort by government to flush out illegal miners, AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi?s 470 km sq concession still remains attractive to galamseyers, especially the Chinese.

Any individual or group of people other than AngloGold Ashanti exploring, mining, processing and marketing gold in the municipality is engaged in illegal mining, John K. Owusu, AngloGold?s General Manager of Public Affairs has said.

In an exclusive interview with spyghana.com, Owusu lauded government?s effort. ?We thank the government and the Interministerial Committee for intervening in Obuasi to flush out illegal miners but we have evidence that the Chinese illegal miners who were deported are staging a comeback big on the fringes of the Obuasi concession.?

?They are operating in villages just behind the Obuasi Airport against the will of the people in those communities?, Owusu said.

According to him, the Chinese have equipment and have employed Ghanaians to assist them. ?They mine in water bodies and seize farm lands with the assistance of some chiefs and other traditional leaders. They also pay no compensation to the poor farmers whose farms and crops ?are adversely impacted by the illegal operation, neither do they pay taxes on their illegal booty to the government.? He therefore made an appeal to all stakeholders to assists in flushing them out once more.

Gabriel Nti is a 20 year old illegal miner who we chanced upon during our visit. He tells us he has been in this business for about three years. ?This is what I do for a living. I know it destroys the environment and the government is also after us but there is nothing I can do. If I am caught then that is it.?

AngloGold Ashanti says it spends so much money on security.? It has engaged G4S, Mega Force, Panos, Community Task Force popularly referred to as Community Police, and Lesben. The Obuasi Police and the Ministerial Task Force are also helping.

The activities of these illegal miners, both Ghanaians and the Chinese, have left a number of deep open pits that has collected mercury infested water making it dangerous for farmers to easily walk to their farmlands. ?The pathetic aspect of this irresponsible form of mining is that these mercury infested water bodies are the main sources of drinking water for the people in the communities downstream?.

The mine, which is over 100 years old, is facing challenges and AngloGold Ashanti is in the process of retrenching 430 workers by the end of the year as a measure to save costs aso as to ensure the survival of the operation.

But it is not only AngloGold Ashanti ? Obuasi mine which is hard hit by the falling prices of bullion. Goldfields Ghana, which owns and manages the Demand and Tarkwa Goldfields and pride itself as Ghana?s leading gold producer, plans to lay off 600 workers, while Golden Star Resources and Newmont are each laying off 300 in Ghana. Ghana Chamber of Mines sources fear that the layoffs could be much higher in the near future as gold price continuous to dribble the gold miners.

In 1994, AngloGold Ashanti produced 932,000 ounces of gold in Ghana but presently it is only able to produce about 300,000 annually.

Until recently, AngloGold Ashanti staff strength in Ghana stands at 8,000 including contractors working on the mine. The company was formed in 2004 through the merger of assets of the then AngloGold of South Africa and the former Ashanti Goldfields Company of Ghana and has a concession of over 470 km sq. in Obuasi. The company also owns and manages the Iduapriem Mine in Tarkwa Nsuem Municipality in Western Region.

Worldwide, AngloGold Ashanti has 21 operations in 10 countries across North America, South America, Africa and .IMG_5199

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