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Business News of Sunday, 30 January 2011

Source: The Enquirer

AngloGold Is World’s Most Evil Company

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As It Wins Most Irresponsible company Award
Mining Giants, AngloGold Ashanti with operations in Ghana specifically at Obuasi and Iduapriem, has been adjudged the Most Irresponsible Company in the world for this year at a naming and shaming ceremony organized by the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace in Davos, Switzerland, last Friday.
Dubbed the Public Eye Awards, the ceremony was held within sight of the World Economic Forum to mark a critical counterpoint to the Forum and also to remind the corporate world that social and environmental sins have consequences for the affected people and community as well as the reputation of the offender mostly multi-national companies.
AngloGold is the second Multi-national company operating in the country to receive the Public Eye award (the most evil company in the world) after Newmont Gold Ghana Limited grabbed it in 2009.
After a thorough review of various nominations from many parts of the world by a panel of experts, AngloGold was dishonored with the Public Eye Global Award thus AngloGold is shamed as the reigning ‘champion’ of the most evil company in the world.
In his laudatory address at the ceremony in Davos, Daniel Owusu Koranteng, the Executive Director of WACAM, the organization which nominated AngloGold for the shaming award told of mining waste that contaminates rivers and wells from which entire villages must drink. In addition, local residents particularly at the Obuasi mine, were occasionally tortured at the mining firm’s guard house; some cases resulted in deaths.
“Some of the violations included the use of Guard Dogs to chew suspects who trespass on the company’s concession especially illegal miners popularly described as “Galamsey” operators. Some of the suspects who were arrested died whilst in the custody of the private security of the company and were detained in the private detention facility operated by AGC. In some cases, suspects were shot by a combined team of the AGC security, the police and the military”.
He explained that at the time of the merger of Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) and AngloGold in 2004, WACAM’s campaign on the gross human rights and environmental problems of AGC had become well known at the national and international levels and AngloGold was very much aware of the serious environmental and human rights legacies of AGC.
“AngloGold factored the gross human rights violations and environmental problems of AGC into the due diligence process of the merger and cannot run away from being held responsible for the liabilities of AGC when it had inherited its assets”, he noted.
Not only did the new entity AngloGold Ashanti ignore the human rights and environmental problems of its predecessor by using the legacy argument, it rather perpetuated the human rights violations and environmental problems thus worsening the living conditions of the poor communities.
Mr. Owusu Koranteng provided a few examples to buttress the perpetuation of the human rights abuses and environmental problems in host communities by AngloGold Ashanti;

• Murder of Clement Kofi Baffoh
Mr. Clement Kofi Baffoh, a 27 year old man from Aduaneyede near Obuasi was arrested by the mine security on 9th June 2004 at 4.30 pm on the suspicion of engaging in “galamsey” activities on the mine concession. The suspect was subjected to severe beatings by the mine security officers who arrested him until he collapsed. After being treated and revived in the mine hospital, Mr. Baffoh was sent to the mine’s private detention facility where he died at around 9.00pm. The murder of Mr Baffoh occurred after the merger of AGC and AngloGold into AngloGold Ashanti.

• The Shooting of Awudu Mohammed- Awudu Mohammed was suspected of trespassing on the concession of AngloGold Ashanti to undertake illegal mining operations and was shot by a security team made up of the security of AngloGold Ashanti and police on 20th June 2005 resulting in his intestines gushing out. Even at the point when he was in a critical condition, the security team used their boots to hit his head several times. The security team decided to send him to the hospital only if he would agree to the team’s concocted story that he was an Armed Robber. When the security team took him to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, they informed the Medical Officer that Awudu Mohammed was an Armed Robber, who tried to escape arrest by jumping over the company’s security wall and in the process spikes on the security wall pierced his stomach and gushed out his intestines. As a result of the company’s story, Awudu Mohammed was chained to his hospital bed but he managed to inform the Medical officer, Dr Turkson that he was not an armed robber but was shot by the security team.
• A Medical report by the hospital administration confirmed that Awudu Mohammed was shot by the combined security team. Awudu Mohammed, who was 25 years when he was shot, finds it difficult to urinate and cannot afford to buy drugs prescribed for him. He is required to undertake another surgery which he cannot afford.

• The shooting of Anthony Baidoo by the military acting on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine
AngloGold Ashanti has created a Rock Waste Dump in Teberebie, which is one of the communities affected by the operations of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine. The Rock Waste Dump had blocked the access to the farms of the people of Teberebie and also prolonged the distance to their farms. The community people protested to the company and whilst discussing the problem caused by the Rock Waste Dump, they used a short route around the Waste Rock Dump to their farms. Unknown to the farmers, the company had employed the service of the military who laid ambush on the short route around the Rock Waste Dump used by the farmers and shot them on 2nd February 2006. The military and the security of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine shot four farmers and molested four other people in Teberebie which is one of the host communities of the company. The security team molested Nana Kwabena Panyin, a sub-chief of Teberebie (the Krontihene of Teberebie), Mr Jerry Mensah Pa (a Journalist of Dynamite FM), Emmanuel Nuako, and Kwadwo Agboshie. Mr Anthony Baidoo who was shot in the waist was hospitalised at the 37 Military Hospital for 9 months. Currently Mr Anthony Baidoo cannot walk without clutches. He cannot undertake farming activities any longer and has not received compensation from the company except that the company bore the cost of his medical care.
Water Pollution- Some communities on the concession of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine complained that the Tailings Storage Facilities of the company discharged poisonous substances into their rivers. Water quality analysis undertaken by Wacam confirmed high levels of cyanide and other heavy metals in some of the rivers like river Angonaben which is a source of drinking water for many people in the area. In February 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana closed down two Tailings containment of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine because the Tailings Storage Facilities of the company had been discharging poisonous effluents into the environment. The operations of AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi mine and Iduapriem mine had polluted many community rivers. Wacam launched a report in 2009 which indicated that 250 rivers in mining communities of Obuasi and Tarkwa are polluted. Many of the mining communities on AngloGold Ashanti’s concession do not have access to potable water because the mining operations of AngloGold Ashanti had polluted their sources of drinking water. On the basis of the environmental and social problems caused by both AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine and AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi mine , the companies were rated RED(POOR) in the recent Environmental Performance Rating launched by the EPA of Ghana.
• Demolition of the village of James Sarpong
Mr James Sarpong was a prominent farmer in Teberebie until AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine established a Rock Waste Dump around his village. Mr James Sarpong and other farmers contested the paltry compensation the company wanted to pay for the destruction of their farms to establish the Rock Waste Dump. In an attempt to take over James Sarpong’s village for the extension of the Rock Waste Dump, the company instituted court action to evict James Sarpong from his village and on the 19th of June 2009 ,the court granted the right to evict James Sarpong from his village to pave way for the extension of the Rock Waste Dump to cover his village despite the argument by the lawyers of James Sarpong that the case was before another High Court in Tarkwa. On the 26th of June 2009, AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem mine sought the help of the Police and demolished James Sarpong’s village in his absence. He lost all his property in the demolition exercise undertaken by the company because he did not have the opportunity to retrieve any of his belongings. Mr James Sarpong who was a prominent farmer is now a homeless destitute living in the office of Wacam. He survives on a small stipend provided by Wacam.
Mr. Owusu-Koranteng notably mentioned that Wacam and the mining communities affected by the operations of AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi mine engaged in a dialogue in 2005. Unfortunately the dialogue had not achieved any concrete outcome in the more than 5 years of engagement and AngloGold Ashanti stopped showing interest in the dialogue process after a Joint Committee made up of Wacam, the mining communities and AngloGold Ashanti presented a report on the human rights violations, loss of livelihood and environmental problems of the communities to the company in 2007.

Further, he thanked the organisers of the Public Eye Awards for creating a platform to expose the hypocrisy and the crimes committed by giant multinational mining companies in Ghana against poor people who are already battling with daily survival.

The Public Eye Awards ceremony is a forum that helps poor people suffering from the plunder of their natural wealth by multinational mining companies to cry out loudly and shame the criminals who are parading around poor countries under the guise of foreign investors.

The Public Eye Awards have succeeded in stripping AngloGold Ashanti of its veil despite the heavy investment the company and others like Newmont make in masking crimes against poor mining communities through Public Relations strategies.
“AngloGold Ashanti deserves the shaming Public Eye Global Award 2011 for irresponsible corporate behavior”. The WACAM boss concluded.

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