The company said without the presence of government security forces it remained vulnerable from the attacks from illegal miners.
“AngloGold Ashanti Ghana appreciates that the mineral wealth of Ghana is a national asset for the benefit of all Ghanaians. However, the company is the formal holder of permits governing the regulated development of the Obuasi mine. This latest invasion of the site undermines that right provided under the law and jeopardises the safety of employees and the future of this asset,” the company said in a statement.
The statement said AngloGold Ashanti committed in 2014 to following due legal process in returning as much as 60 per cent of the Obuasi mining concession area to the government of Ghana.
“We are working with the relevant delegated authorities in this regard, and the process is now awaiting completion. Thereafter, the government will be at liberty to utilise the land as it sees fit,” it said.
The statement said, “It is crucial that the Ghanaian government, as well as local and regional authorities, work with AngloGold Ashanti to resolve threats to the viability of the Obuasi gold mine and its ongoing contribution to the Ghanaian economy. The immediate priority should be to ensure safety and security of the mine employees and the mine.”
The company according to the statement had withdrawn all employees performing non-essential functions from its Obuasi Gold Mine, following the incursion of hundreds of illegal miners inside the fenced operational areas of the site since February 5, 2016.
It said employees remaining on site are performing critical tasks including underground pumping and ventilation, water treatment, provision of medical services and maintenance of electrical facilities that provide power and water to employee homes and surrounding communities.
It said this latest invasion of the site followed the withdrawal of government military protection from the mine on Tuesday, February 2, after an initial incursion on January 30 and 31, 2016.
“No reasons for the military’s withdrawal were given and — to AngloGold Ashanti’s knowledge — no other mine sites in Ghana with a military presence have been affected. It is important to point out that Ghana Army has a Memorandum of Understanding (Military MOU) with the Chamber of Mines, on behalf of its members, to provide military personnel for deployment at their mining operations.”
The statement said, “AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has noted the conflicting reports about the events at Obuasi mine, including the circumstances leading to the tragic death of AngloGold Ashanti employee John Owusu. John was fatally injured in a car accident as he and colleagues tried to flee after a large group of illegal miners hurled rocks and other projectiles at mine employees, police and security personnel observing their activities. This attack was entirely unprovoked.”