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Ghana’s gold mining city under siege

  • SOURCE: | qwesa2big
  • anglogold

    Gold mining at Obuasi in the Ashanti region is under siege as small-scale miners demand part of Anglogold Ashanti’s concession for their operations.

    The mining giant has shut the mines following a clash between illegal miners and staff of the company, leading to the death of a senior management member.

    Industry watchers say Obuasi needs an industrialization plan to pacify the hungry and angry youth of the mining town.

    The dwindling fortunes of Anglogold Ashanti Obuasi mine have been a worry to many residents.

    The company in 2014 put its activities at Obuasi under a two-year break for a restructuring process to make the mines profitable.

    This has left over 5,000 workers losing their jobs.

    Hopes of the mine’s revival were dashed when Randgold Resources Limited decided to terminate an investment agreement entered into with AngloGold.

    Following a recent clash between illegal miners and Anglogold staff, which led to the death of the company’s communications director, the company has had to redraw its essential services.

    The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) has documented the socio-economic impact of AngloGold Ashanti’s operational downscaling at Obuasi.

    Executive Director of the NGO, Richard Ellimah, says livelihoods are negatively impacted when there are no alternatives to mining.

    “Once the fortunes of the mines begin to dwindle, it affects the broader economy of Obuasi,” he stated.

    “Government should, as a matter of urgency, create a system where Ghanaians who want to do mining – legal small-scale mining – would have the opportunity to do so”.

    Anglogold Ashanti has agreed to release 60percent of its concession but interest groups say government need to act swift in ceding the land to legal small-scale miners.

    “We are operating at the abandoned areas of Anglogold Ashanti. Right now, where are operating, we’ve gone as far to the Minerals Commission and in connection with the part of the concession ceded off, none of those areas are within Obuasi,” said Rufus Borry, General Secretary of the small-scale miners association at Obuasi.

    The group wants stakeholder’ dialogue and negotiation deepened in ceding off part of Anglogold’s concession to small-scale miners.

    The leadership is also streamlining registration of the small-scale miners to clamp down on illegal operations and tax mobilization from members.

    For over ten decades, mining has been the main stay of the Obuasi economy.

    The industry has contributed immensely to the country’s development but local mining communities say the negatives impact of mining outweighs the positive socio-economic impact on their livelihoods.

    Residents are divided on the whether the operations of Anglogold or small-scale mining should thrive.

    But there is consensus that the economy of Obuasi is presently under siege.

    The Obuasi local assembly is worried of no investor interest if the conflict between Anglogold and small-scale miners persists.

    There are also fears of communities turning into ghost towns when the mine is shut.

    But Richard Ellimah says this can be averted when the economy of Obuasi is diversified to reduce the dependence on mining.

    The bigger responsibility, he says, rests with the municipal assembly to create an alternative industry, including tourism, entrepreneurship development and farming.

    Anglogold says it will re-open the Obuasi mine when it is assured of the security of its staff.


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