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Regional News of Thursday, 15 October 2015

Source: The Finder

Obuasi MCE, residents bare teeth at AngloGold-Randgold Heads

AngloGold-Randgold Heads AngloGold-Randgold Heads

Some residents of mining enclave, Obuasi led by the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Richard Ofori-Agyemang Boadi have vowed to go all out to ensure that AngloGold Ashanti and Randgold employ only indigenes of Obuasi as miners.

They dared the companies to employ their staff outside their confines and face their wrath.

The MCE, who spoke to journalists from Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania attending an international programme issued a terrifying warning to AngloGold Ashanti against recruitment of non-indigenes.

“We will not negotiate, we will not compromise…and will ensure that those employed are indigenes of Obuasi…with that, we are assured there would be enough disposable income which will then revolve in every economic activity,” he warned.

He said the people of Obuasi, will ensure that every employment is done at the department of labour but not at their offices, stressing “this one, we will do it with the last drop of our blood.”

Meanwhile, a civil society group based in Obuasi is warning of stiff community-company friction if management of Anglogold-Randgold merger does not appropriately manage community expectations.

The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) observes high employment expectations from the take-over among community members.

“People expect many will be employed. If that happens, then it is a good deal but if otherwise then they will be disappointed… how they manage the expectations will define whether the company will be successful or not,” observed Prince Aboagye, CeSIS Programmes Director for Extractives.

Over 3,000 workers of the mining company were laid off under the company’s retrenchment exercise when Anglogold Ashanti began a restructuring process at Obuasi two years ago.

Some businesses and institutions have had to fold up whiles others struggle to stay in business because their operations relied on the gold mine.

The announced merger between AngloGold Ashanti and Randgold Resources Limited might have breathed life into the community as employment expectations rise.

The redevelopment and operation of the Obuasi mine is expected to begin early 2016.

Small-scale miners in Obuasi have begun pushing for negotiations with AngloGold Ashanti to acquire abandoned concessions in the municipality.

The miners explain though they have licenses, they do not have their own concessions to mine and, therefore, have had to rely on part of Anglogold Ashanti’s concessions.

“Our main problem is how to get a land cover concession to conduct our business because all concession in this area is for Anglogold,” explained Rufus Borry, General Secretary of the Small Scale Miners Association in Obuasi.

Anglogold Ashanti owns all land-cover concessions at Bekwai, Amansie, Adansi and Obuasi, rendering the operations of the over 13,000 small scale miners illegal.

Operations of the artisanal miners halted in 2013 when a ministerial task force undertook an operation to clamp down on illegal miners in the country.

The miners are therefore optimistic about going back into business but want assistance to negotiate terms with the mining company.

For close to three years, these miners have struggled to make ends meet as mining remains their only source of livelihood.

Mr. Borry pleads “We want government to also intervene so that we will resume our negotiation with Anglogold Ashanti”, as the company begins next year.

But CeSIS smells doom if the mining company fails to manage the expectation of local communities. “Somebody has to come out and clear the airwaves as to whether indeed people are going to be employed and how many. So we need to manage the expectation, and the truth has to be told now,” said Prince Aboagye.

Meanwhile six communities in the Obuasi Municipality and the adjoining Amansie Central District, have complained about cheating and unfair treatment by AngloGold Ashanti.

The people of Sanso, Anyinam, Nyamebekyere, Nhyieso, Bidiem and Diawuoso, many of them farmers and clad in red, to symbolize their angry mood, said they were being given a raw deal by the company, regarding compensation payment for farms and farmlands destroyed.

At a joint press conference held at Bidiem, they allegedly accused AngloGold of blatant disregard for the requirement under the Mineral and Mining Act that holders of mining lease could only start operations after successfully negotiating compensation package payment with the land owners and lawful occupiers of the land.

Mrs. Olivia Delali Fiagbor, their Spokesperson, claimed that contrary to the demand by the law, the company would move in equipment to completely level food and cash crop farms without notice to the farmers and later pay paltry amounts of money to them as compensation.

That, she said, was totally unacceptable, adding that, it was simply a clear demonstration of “corporate impunity”.

She pointed out that they were not against AngloGold digging for gold ore on their lands but what they opposed to was its refusal to do was right and lawful.

Mrs. Fiagbor said in calculating the size of compensation for crops destroyed it was important to factor in the loss of expected income depending on their nature and life expectancy, something the company had refused to do.

Again, they found it difficult to understand why the determination of compensation payment rates should be at the discretion of the company instead of the law.

“The typical take it or leave it approach by AngloGold officials, who set their own rates and push these down the throat of the poor farmer” must stop, she added.

The farmers said they welcomed the partnership deal between Randgold and AngloGold to revamp the Obuasi mine but urged Randgold to ensure that all outstanding issues between the farmers and AngloGold were resolved.

That, they maintained, was the way forward to promote smooth and uninterrupted operation.

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