General News of Friday, 23 May 2014
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is asking the management of Anglogold Ashanti to assure government that the mine will be re-opened within the stipulated 18 to 24 months after shutdown.
The mine has served notice it will close its main mine and lay off about 5,000 of its workers due to falling gold prices and cost of production in Ghana.
The sector Minister, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, has justified the need for Anglogold Ashanti to shut its Obuasi Mine after over 100 years of operation.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Alhaji Fuseini stated that his personal assessment shows that the company cannot continue to operate under the current circumstances.
He explained that the cost of operation far outweighs the profit revenue that is derived from Obuasi, adding that, he has personally visited the site to assess the situation.
The closure of the mine is expected to last between 18 to 24 months and time is to be used to invest and ensure the southern part of the mine which holds the potential is fully exploited.
This is to enable the mine to re-open and operate for the next 25 years.
But Alhaji Fuseini is requesting for some concrete assurances from the management of the company because according to him, government has legitimate concerns about the closure.
“How will they protect the integrity of the mine because the mine is an underground mine…a mine closure will need security to safeguard the integrity of the mine so they should come out and tell us how they want to protect the integrity of the mine.
We need firm commitments that if they close down the mine, they will re-open it after the date that they have said. We need firm commitments from them to show that they have enough resources to invest in the mines,” he said.
The sector Minister, however, clarified that the mine has not been closed down yet and negotiations are ongoing “and what you have heard is just an intent; they are not yet implementing the decision.”
He disclosed that the government's concerns in relation to the matter have been penciled down for the next engagement with the management of Anglogold Ashanti.
Alhaji Fuseini pledged that his Ministry will closely collaborate with Anglogold Ashanti “to build a consensus on what ought to be done that will inure to the collective benefit of the people of this country and guarantee them a return of their investments.”
He also expressed regret at the failure of Ghanaians to take advantage of the mining boom which took place in the 1980s.
Alhaji Fuseini noted that Ghanaians have the expertise in mining, working in other mining industries across the world, but was quick to add that government should not be blamed for the absence of many wholly owned Ghanaian mining companies.
“Going forward, we should be able to see Ghanaian companies acquiring each other and turning themselves into big companies to determine the way the mining industry goes in Ghana,” he said.