EXECUTIVE VICE President of Anglogold Ashanti, Robert Lazare has condemned illegal mining, indicating that it is a threat to the future of the mining industry.
Bemoaning the activities of illegal miners, popularly called 'galamsey' operators, especially around the Obuasi mine, he said, “They have now embarked upon underground mining. They are gradually gaining illegal access to our ore and they are mining it.”
Mr. Lazare disclosed that 'galamsey' operators recently attacked two security officers of the company at the Obuasi mine and that one of the security officers was still receiving medical treatment.
According to the Executive Vice President of Anglogold, who was addressing a cross section of the company's stakeholders which included chiefs from the mining communities, at a road show in Accra, in spite of the numerous measures put in place to address the situation such as tightening security, using watch dogs among others, “the 'galamsey' operators are becoming more aggressive”.
Anglogold Ashanti operates two mines in the country- Obuasi in the Ashanti Region and Iduapriem in the Western Region.
“The Obuasi mine is the major area of challenge, with illegal mining getting more brazen,” Mr. Lazare said.
To address the problem, he called on government and traditional leaders in the mining communities to collaborate with the company to find a lasting solution to the problem which has since time immemorial been a consistent one.
“National security is government's business. These illegal miners are armed but our employees who are not armed need to be protected.”
However the Municipal Chief Executive Officer of Obuasi, Joseph Kwadwo Boampong, in a comment said, “The best way to win the fight against illegal mining operation is to encourage 'galamsey' and control it.”
He suggested that the youth in mining communities be assisted to gain alternative livelihood.
“When they have gainful employment they would stop mining illegally.”
He was also worried that the Obuasi mine which is speculated to have 50 years down the line to exhaust all the gold underground, might end up not bequeathing anything significant to the people.
A review of the overall performance of Anglogold Ashanti at the end of the third quarter indicated that production was six percent higher than the previous quarter.
By Emelia Ennin