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Unions optimistic as AngloGold Ashanti's Obuasi mine in Ghana resumes operations

20 February, 2020Following a period of uncertainty, when the Obuasi mine was put on limited operations, and then on care and maintenance in 2016, the mine is up and running again.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo officiated at the AngloGold Ashanti's Obuasi mine reopening ceremony, signifying the importance of gold mining to Ghana's economy. With mining having resumed last year, the company says it hopes to produce on average 350,000 to 400,000 ounces per year for the next 10 years.

According to the company's Obuasi Redevelopment Project, over 550 local jobs will be created, and a Community Trust Fund, to which the company will contribute, will facilitate local development in areas that include health, education and provision of clean water.

Abdul-Moomin Gbana, general secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union, said:

“The opening of the Obuasi mine is pleasant news for the union, the community and the country. There is potential for job creation, and AngloGold Ashanti is working closely with the union as well as respecting workers' rights, including freedom of association.

“The company also conformed to labour norms and standards during the period when the mine was under care and maintenance. Further, we successfully negotiated for an increase in wages for the workers two weeks ago and have started negotiations for a collective agreement.”

Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for mining, said:

“We hope that the reopening of the Obuasi Mine and AngloGold Ashanti's redevelopment project will continue to include the interests of mineworkers and the community of Obuasi including artisanal and small-scale miners. To promote responsible mining in Ghana, artisanal miners should be formalized, not criminalized, and the mining company should consider the interests of all stakeholders.”

In 2015, over 3,000 artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) began digging for ore at the mine. The government of Ghana sent the army to occupy Obuasi and banned the operations of the ASM while arresting some miners. However, discussions continued between the Minerals Commission, Adansi Traditional Council, Obuasi Small Scale Miners Association and the Ghana National Small-scale Miners Association, the Obuasi Provincial Assembly and the Ghana Police Service to defuse the conflict.

While reopening Obuasi Mine in Ghana, AngloGold Ashanti sold its last mine in South Africa, Mponeng, to Harmony Gold, this month. The other mines, Kopanang and Moab Khotsong, were sold in 2018.

Photo: Workers in the Anglo Ashanti gold mine at a depth of about 330m in Obuasi, Ghana. © Jonathan Ernst/World Bank