Illegal miners dig underground tunnel into AngloGold
Security personnel of AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) have uncovered a 30-metre underground tunnel dug by illegal gold miners from Anwiam, a suburb of Obuasi, to one of the company’s major mines at Obuasi.
Officials of AGA said the illegal miners had wanted to use the tunnel to gain access to AGA’s concession underground in order to carry out their activities.
The sophisticated development, which has astounded AGA officials, opens another chapter in the illegal miners’ attempt to use alternative means to return to the concessions of AGA after a national exercise which flushed out about 10,000 illegal miners including Chinese nationals from the area a couple of months ago.
‘They were going to use the tunnel to transport their equipment as well as ore to and from the mine but they were not smart enough as we went ahead of them to discover it before it could be put to use,’ Mr John Owusu, Head of Public Affairs of AGA, told the Daily Graphic in Obuasi during a visit to the site last week.
‘It was constructed to access underground workings to enable them steal our ore,’ he said.
The management of the AGA Obuasi Mine is planning how to seal the tunnel safely.
During the national exercise against galamsey, security officials discovered about 620 holes on the main Obuasi concession, which illegal miners used to search for the ore. But the Chinese and residents have staged a comeback.
Mr Owusu said after uncovering the tunnel, the company made a report to the municipal administration and the Obuasi Divisional Police.
‘We understand the police are investigating and we are cooperating with them to get to the bottom of it.’
Some residents of Anwiam, who also spoke to the Daily Graphic, were of the belief that the construction began in May, 2013 after the national security task force successfully flushed out thousands of illegal miners who were openly working on the main Obuasi mine.
Currently on the outskirt of the concession, some Chinese nationals are still working illegally in communities including Fiankoban, Kotwiaso and Adaase.
‘Some of the leaders of the galamsey gangs are back in action, seriously trying to revive the activity. They go telling chiefs and the unemployed youth that AGA has given them a concession to work on, but that is absolutely false,’ Mr Owusu said.
Galamsey activities have also resurfaced in villages like Anyinam, Kokoteasua and Sansu.
The sad thing about galamsey activities is that those involved in it have forcibly taken over farmlands without compensating the owners, and are polluting water bodies through the use of mercury.
These water bodies like the Konwia stream and Oda river are major sources of potable water to a large number of communities in the area.
The cost of treating water in the Obuasi municipality has risen significantly in recent times, according to the Ghana Water Company, because it now has to use more chemicals to treat the same volume of water.
By Kwame Asare Boadu/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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