ACCRA Oct 14 Illegal miners operating at
AngloGold Ashanti's Obuasi mine in Ghana have ignored a
government deadline to leave, delaying company plans to restart
Up to 5,000 miners were still working at Obuasi in the
Ashanti region on Friday, four days after a deadline for them to
leave, said Benjamin Annan, spokesman for the Association of
Small Scale Miners. He said relocation plans that would enable
them to move were yet to be finalised.
"We will move immediately the Minerals Commission
representative has done the demarcations," Annan told Reuters.
AngloGold officials say previous deals to get the miners out
were ignored and as a result it could not attract new investment
or complete a study on how much it would cost to bring the mine
back to life.
The Obuasi mine began production a century ago and is
crucial to gold mining in a country that also exports cocoa and
oil. Output was halted and almost all staff laid off in 2014
when falling gold prices made it uneconomic to access new and
deep-lying reserves. Gold prices have since recovered somewhat.
Crime and unemployment have since soared in Obuasi town and
in February men broke into the concession, digging shafts that
intersected with the mine's official tunnels and allowed them to
access ore thousands of feet underground.
At least 130 illegal miners have been killed, according to
The illegal miners were due to move to a different part of
the AngloGold concession under a deal worked out by a committee
that included small scale miners set up by the government
regulator, the Minerals Commission.
"We are counting on them to leave on their own, or be pushed
out and also lose the ground that we have earmarked for them,"
said Toni Aubynn, chief executive of the commission.
Local officials said security forces were unlikely to evict
the miners ahead of a presidential election in December, given
that many families rely on the miners' income.
The apparent decision not to force the miners out is an
example of what many business leaders say is a slowdown in
government decision-making as the election approaches.
"All we can do is continue to monitor and hope to see
results on the ground," Eric Asubonteng, managing director of
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana, told Reuters. The company is also
pursuing arbitration in Washington with the government, he said.
(Editing by Edward McAllister and Mark Potter)