Tarkwa (W/R) Feb. 4 GNA - Management of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited (AAIL) has expressed regret about the unfortunate shooting incident that occurred at its Mine Site last Thursday. This was contained in a press release signed by Mr David Kwasi Renner, Managing Director of AAIL.
It said in pursuit of the implementation of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) which was put together as a document to guide the Management of AAIL in it's obligations towards the Teberebie community, the construction of an alternative road away from the main mining areas for the use of local farmers to access their farms was recently commenced. The release said the road was planned within the context of the Company's management of resettlement and community development issues with the various communities within the operational area and in consonance with the Company's corporate values.
Accordingly, it said, the Company duly informed the community heads and other stakeholders that the first phase of the road construction had been completed and could be used by both vehicles and pedestrians. The release said it was specifically explained that as a result of the completion of the road, the temporary bus service, which was put in place on the haul road during the road construction, would stop effective 31st January 2006 to enhance the safety of the farmers. The affected farmers were then requested to use the alternative road to access their farms. At the same time it was stated that Phase II of the road construction, which involved the construction of appropriate culverts, would be undertaken and completed by the Company before the next rainy season in March 2006.
It said on the eve of 31st January 2006, Management received a letter from the community leaders insisting that unless culverts were constructed at certain portions of the road they could not use the road.
The community heads were implored to get the farmers to use the road while AAIL proceeded with the plans to construct the said culverts especially since the absence of the culverts did not in any way affect the condition of the road for vehicular or pedestrian use. Management specifically emphasized to the community elders that the use of the main haul road exposes pedestrians to serious safety risks due to the movement of the 100-ton capacity mining trucks and other heavy fleet.
The release said in addition, the blasting hazards and human and vehicular traffic would be exposed to daily in the vicinity of the haul road and the nearby pits were both unjustifiable and unreasonable. In spite of all these efforts and consultations held with community leaders earlier on, the community members converged at the gate leading to the haul road in their numbers at about 0730 hours on Thursday morning, blocked the road leading to the main mining areas and tried to force their way through the barrier jointly mounted by the police/military and Mine's Security personnel, who were on duty at the gate.
The release said one community member then decided to attack a military sergeant without provocation and in the ensuing struggle; the soldier's rifle went off with the bullet hitting another person on the upper end of the right thigh.
The casualty was given initial treatment at the Mine's Clinic and transported to the Effia Nkwanta Government Hospital in Sekondi/Takoradi for further treatment at the Company's expense.
Four other people who sustained minor injuries during the scuffle were treated at the clinic and discharged.
It is emphasized that the Company's action of preventing the farmers from forcefully using the main haul road was for the farmers' own good and we deem it unfortunate and regrettable that their leaders would want to pursue a course of action, which exposes the farmers to active mining areas when several discussions had been held to highlight the serious safety implications involved in the use of the haul road in the circumstances they insisted upon.
The release said the Management of the Company, therefore, deeply regrets the unfortunate incident especially in view of the determined efforts to get the Teberebie community to use the new and much safer road. Again, Management remains committed to the ongoing consultations with the local stakeholders and will ensure that the mine co-exists peacefully and harmoniously with the surrounding communities, the release said.