A police crackdown on illegal gold mining activities in Anglogold Ashanti’s out-of-use Pompora Treatment Plant (PTP) in Obuasi last Friday evening led to the death of an illegal miner.
The deceased, Enoch Aziz, 26, whose father is a worker at Anglogold Ashanti, was hit in the mid-section by what the police described as a stray bullet.
He died instantly.
Aziz was among a group of men who had gone to the PTP, located within the concession of Anglogold Ashanti, to dig for the precious ore.
The Divisional Police Commander for Obuasi, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mr Kofi Dwunfuor Berchie, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that policemen from Kumasi had gone to the area last Friday evening to undertake an exercise to check galamsey activities.
According to him, a group of illegal miners working on the concession surrounded the police, and as the police tried to ward them off with warning shots, one of the miners was hit.
Mr Berchie stated that police investigations had started into the incident.
In the early 1990s, Anglogold Ashanti started operating an arsenic precipitation plant, commonly referred to as the PTP.
The PTP roaster facility was shut down in 2000 and arsenic generation ceased, as the market for arsenic gold declined on the international market.
The operations of the PTP also involved the application of industrial quantities of sodium cyanide.
However, the area in which the PTP was located continued to be under the direct control of Anglogold Ashanti.
That notwithstanding, illegal mining operations continued there under dangerous and exploitative conditions.
The current national programme to stop illegal gold mining, which has resulted in the deportation of thousands illegal Chinese miners, has done little to prevent the illegal business, as locals have taken over the facility.
The Obuasi Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Richard Ofori Agyeman Boadi, told the Daily Graphic that but for his intervention, there would have been chaos in the area, as some of the illegal miners had threatened mayhem because of the death of their colleague.
‘I had to calm them down and allow the law to take its course, since the police are investigating the matter,’ he said.
He noted that since the crackdown on illegal mining began a few months ago, criminal activities had increased in the Obuasi area.
‘It appears that with the crackdown on illegal mining, there are fewer options left out for the illegal miners to eke out a living. But that is not a licence for anyone to take the law into his or her own hands to engage in criminal activities,’ Mr Boadi said.
By Kwame Asare Boadu/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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