AngloGold Ashanti denies staff complicity in invasion

AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has dismissed allegations by WACAM that some staff of the company are complicit in the invasion of its Obuasi concession.

AngloGold described the allegations as baseless.

According to WACAM’s Executive Director, Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the activities of illegal miners on AngloGold’s shaft could not have gone on without the involvement of workers at the mine.

In response to a publication on Starrfmonline.com, AngloGold Ashanti in a statement said, the accusation “has no basis since the company itself is without access to those areas, and therefore illegal miners would not need assistance or any form of collaboration to enter”.

The incursion by illegal miners since February 2016, started after government withdrew military personnel from the concession. Since then, at least 78 illegal miners have lost lives in various forms on the site as at last month, according to AngloGold Ashanti Ghana.

The activities of the illegal miners compelled the company to halt the non-essential operations at the mine. Although government has redeployed military officials to the concession, the statement said that was not enough as “their current order is to guard shaft entrances, and not to clear the illegal miners from the fenced operational areas”.

Below is the full statement copied to Starr Business:

Response to comments by WACAM on Starr FM, 4 September 2016

AngloGold Ashanti Ghana notes the recent comments on StarrFM by Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) Director, Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, about the involvement of AngloGold Ashanti employees in the illegal mining incursions into Obuasi Mine’s operational areas.

This claim has no basis since the company itself is without access to those areas, and therefore illegal miners would not need assistance or any form of collaboration to enter.

Obuasi has a large open operational footprint and while AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has company security on site, it is important to remember that company security personnel operate under the voluntary principles for human rights and do not carry weapons (lethal or non-lethal). The Ghana Army has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chamber of Mines, on behalf of its members, to support mine security and police through the deployment of military personnel at mining operations.

Illegal miners have occupied Obuasi Mine’s fenced operational areas since the violent incursion in February 2016. This occurred after the withdrawal of the military from the mine. After numerous pleas, the military were returned to site, but their current order is to guard shaft entrances, and not to clear the illegal miners from the fenced operational areas. As such, the illegal miners continue to operate with impunity.

The company withdrew all employees performing non-essential functions, as a result of the violent incursion, that led to the death of one of the company’s senior employees. Those remaining on site perform critical tasks, including underground pumping and ventilation, water treatment, provision of medical services and maintenance of facilities that provide power and water to employee homes and some surrounding communities.

Seven months after the incursion, thousands of illegal miners continue to operate freely on the site. The inexplicable lack of sustained action by the authorities has emboldened the growing number of illegal miners to intensify their activities in increasingly dangerous conditions, resulting in tragic and avoidable casualties and fatalities, causing significant damage to the environment, jeopardising the mine’s future viability, and compromising the rights of the community and investors in Ghana alike.

As covered by Reuters last month, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has reported to the authorities for further investigation up to 78 illegal miner fatalities on site that have come to its attention since the initial incursion. While no longer having access to the operational areas, there are a range of ways the company gets the information on casualties, including community members and illegal miners themselves. The company provides the authorities with regular updates on the situation on site, warning of the growing potential for a significant underground accident if this large-scale illegal mining is allowed to continue.

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Tawakalitu Braimah

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