MAC: Mines and Communities

Ghana: 9 dead in 3 weeks on AngloGold concessions

Published by MAC on 2016-06-26
Source: 3news.com (2016-06-28)

9 dead in 3 weeks on AngloGold concessions

3news.com

10 June 2016

Nine people have died in a period of 3 weeks on the Obuasi Gold concession of AngloGold Ashanti Mines due to lack of effective and “meaningful intervention by state authorities” to curb the menace of illegal mining.

The company has largely blamed the withdrawal of government soldiers from their mines earlier this year for the growth in the illegal activities, a move that has “has emboldened the growing number of illegal miners to intensify their activities in increasingly dangerous conditions.

“It is also our understanding that the increasing number of illegal miners in a lawless environment has heightened tensions, creating significant potential for conflict.” The company in a statement said “AngloGold Ashanti Ghana personnel continue to receive reports of serious injuries and fatalities sustained by illegal miners in hazardous working conditions.

“It is understood that of the most recent deaths we are aware of, five people died following smoke inhalation, two occurred after a stope collapse, one died in blasting and one other individual succumbed to injuries including fractures and lacerations. We send our sincere condolences to the families of the deceased.”

Below is the full statement from the company:

AngloGold Ashanti Ghana notes the tragic death of at least nine illegal miners operating on its Obuasi Gold Mine in the past three weeks alone, and again urges authorities to find a peaceful resolution to the occupation of the site, now in its fifth month. Lack of meaningful intervention by authorities since the initial invasion of the site in early February, has emboldened the growing number of illegal miners to intensify their activities in increasingly dangerous conditions.

It is also our understanding that the increasing number of illegal miners in a lawless environment has heightened tensions, creating significant potential for conflict. The incursion of illegal miners followed the withdrawal of government military protection from the mine on Tuesday, 2 February 2016, after initial incursions on 30 and 31 January 2016.

Initially the company reported there were several hundred illegal miners on site, but now has reason to believe the number has grown significantly, potentially into the thousands. Due to the ongoing safety concern, it is difficult to verify.

The 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.

AngloGold Ashanti Ghana personnel continue to receive reports of serious injuries and fatalities sustained by illegal miners in hazardous working conditions.

It is understood that of the most recent deaths we are aware of, five people died following smoke inhalation, two occurred after a stope collapse, one died in blasting and one other individual succumbed to injuries including fractures and lacerations.

We send our sincere condolences to the families of the deceased. The company has reported these deaths to relevant local and national authorities, along 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.

The company has also continued to seek engagement with the Government to urge actions that will peacefully restore law and order to the site. AngloGold Ashanti Ghana notes comments last week by Ashanti Regional Minister, Honourable John Alexander Kobina Ackon, that addressing the growing problem of illegal gold mining is a priority for him.

A May 27 report by Ghana News Agency, following a meeting of the Regional Coordinating Council, said the Minister was determined to do everything to rein in the miners, wreaking havoc on the environment and threatening the very survival of the people. In an interview with the BBC which aired on May 19, the Minister said law and order at the Obuasi Gold Mine would be restored very soon and that he was convinced that it will be sooner rather than later.

The Minister had also provided similar assurances directly to AngloGold Ashanti Ghana, pledging that restoration of law and order was imminent. Still, the ongoing illegal occupation of the site, and the inexplicable inaction of the authorities over this protracted period, has continued to jeopardise the mines viability and compromised the rights of community members and investors in Ghana alike.

Now more than ever, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana urgently calls on the government to assist in upholding the law and returning safety and security to the site before further loss of life and environmental damage occurs. Only once there is clear evidence of restoration of law and order, can the company obtain sole use of the site and commence the process of fully assessing the condition of the site.

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