AngloGold Ashanti has said that it would continue to dialogue with a range of stakeholders as it implements measures aimed at addressing the long-running underperformance of the Obuasi mine in Ghana.
As part of these consultation efforts, on 18 July, 2014, AngloGold Ashanti submitted its Amended Programme for Mining Operations (APMO) to the Government of Ghana and key regulators for review, and is expected to be followed by a two-month consultation period. The APMO provides details of the technical, environmental, financial and social aspects of the envisaged transition of the mine. The APMO, required under Section 45 of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703), will include a detailed Feasibility Study to determine future scope, cost and economics of the Obuasi mine. This will form the basis for future investment decisions.
‘Addressing the underperformance at Obuasi remains a key objective for us,’ Fred Attakumah, Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti Ghana, said. ‘We’re committed to engaging with the Government of Ghana, our employees and the other important local and regional stakeholders throughout this process, as we work to return this key asset to sustainable, long-term profitability for the benefit of all constituencies.’
Obuasi mine’s production has been in decline since 1995, reaching a 30-year low of 239,000oz in 2013, necessitating a major intervention to address significant operational and cash flow challenges that the mine faces, in order to secure its long-term future.
The restructuring and repositioning of the mine, which remains dependent on key consents, is likely to result in a substantial reduction in the mine’s existing operations and a significant workforce, which has continued throughout this year. AngloGold Ashanti is in close dialogue with its workforce and its organised labour representatives to assist with financial planning ahead of redundancy payments, and is also assisting affected employees to find other employment, where possible.
Further fundamental changes at Obuasi mine are aimed at systemically addressing legacies, infrastructure, development constraints and cash outflows are being implemented while surface production, exploration drilling and decline development remain ongoing. This work includes initiatives to reduce the footprint of the operation and consolidate infrastructure, lower operating costs by introducing a mechanised mining approach in the future, together with the refurbishment and automation of the processing plant.
The Obuasi Deeps Decline project, which started in July last year, reached an important milestone this month, completing the decline from the surface to below the 17 Level, which is more than a third of the total decline project.
‘This has shown what is possible at Obuasi mine and is a good precursor to the mine that we’d like to develop,’ Mark Morcombe, Senior Vice President: Ghana, said. ‘While this is a good result, there is still a long way for us to go, and we need the support of our employees, our host communities and the local and the national governments,’ he urged.
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