The reopening of the AngloGold Ashanti Mine is good news, indeed, for several reasons, with the main cause for jubilation being that it will offer jobs to between 2,000 and 2,500 people, in addition to roles that will be required during the construction phase of the mine’s underground project.
As the establishment of companies do to communities all around the world, the operation once again of the gold mine will definitely light up Obuasi and improve the livelihoods of not only those who will, in one way or another, be connected with its operations but also those who will provide services for the workers.
Indeed, this is a project that will impact the local economy in various ways.
AngloGold and the government deserve commendation for successfully reactivating operations after the firm had suspended its underground production in 2014 and retrenched more than 2,000 workers as a result of the significant losses it endured for a prolonged period.
However, now that the mine is restarting as a modern, productive, long-life, high margin operation and also a mechanised underground mining operation, the Daily Graphic believes that the fortunes of Ghanaians must also improve.
In other places where the mining of gold has gone on for many years, such as Johannesburg, South Africa, no special skills are required for a first timer to notice that the activity has brought about very visible dividends for the people. That, however, is not the case in many communities in Ghana where gold mining has gone on for over a century.
Gold, just like other minerals embedded in the soil, is a finite resource which will one day run out as we continue mining. Mining, especially open cast or surface mining, destroys large tracts of land, the topography and the ecology of a place.
It is the strict enforcement and adherence to globally accepted environmental practices that ensure that the riches in the soil do not become a curse to the people whose lands are mined.
It is very instructive that the Obuasi Mine has adopted the more expensive but less destructive underground mining method, but sight must not be lost of the fact that once the gold is taken from the earth, it is gone for good.
That single fact must inform the price at which the mineral is sold, so that Obuasi and Ghana as a whole do not lose out or bear the brunt.
The Daily Graphic holds the General Manager of AngloGold Ashanti, Mr Eric Asubonteng, to his word when he announced a rebound of the mine last year that the project would benefit the local community and the national economy through the payment of taxes, job creation, communal development expenditure and local procurement opportunities.
Indeed, the 5.8 million ounces of ore reserves and 34 million ounces in mineral resources that feasibility studies show are in the redeveloped mine must not only create a safe, long-life mining operation that is productive and profitable but also at least help in giving Obuasi the needed facelift.
If the redevelopment of the Obuasi Mine will establish Obuasi as a world-class operation and rejuvenate the proud gold mining history of the Ashanti Region, it should come with improvement in the standard of living of the people.