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Obuasi small scale Mining: The center cannot hold

BY: Emmanuel Agyemfra Boateng

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything - Albert Einstein

The quote above is well understood when the evil being done is very close to you.

Last Saturday, the people of Obuasi and its surroundings heard the most traumatizing news ever. The Corporate Affairs Manager of Anglogold Ashanti, Mr. John Owusu, joined the heavenly choir in a very painful way after being run over by a Pick-Up truck that belonged to the Chief Security Officer of the mining company.

There have been some good people in Obuasi who kept mute for all these years and are now bowing down their heads in shame for what happened last Saturday. When you have Politicians who will do anything for power, then be prepared for such painful results

We have been mining in Obuasi for the past 130 years and we still can’t even boast of one alternative company that would’ve taken the ever growing graduate unemployed youth in the Municipality.

Politicians
Mr. Richard Ellimah in his latest write up, ‘Illegal mining,the politics and a needless death’ have said all what I wanted to scribble about the role our heartless Politicians have played in bringing us this far.

Politicians have politicized issues of Small scale Mining and large scale mining and this is where we have come at long last.

Any of the Politicians mentioned in Mr. Richard Ellimah’s insightful write up who dare comes out to challenge these facts should be booed and told in the face we can’t be toyed with any more.

Both NPP and NDC have disappointed the Obuasi youth. After receiving all those Mineral Royalties from the mine, the youth was not thought of for once. When it’s time for elections they come back to incite the unemployed youth to cause unnecessary confusion.

“The role of the ever cancerous Ghanaian politics also comes to play in this mess. During the 2008 electioneering campaigns, the then Presidential Candidate of the NDC, the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills promised to "regularize" small scale mining if he got elected as President. Truly from 2009 till 2012 galamsey in Obuasi experienced a major boom, positively affecting the local economy.

The unprecedented high price of gold on the international market also fueled this boom. The local miners managed to negotiate a deal with AngloGold Ashanti to mine their abandoned pits. At this stage management of AGA looked the other way as these miners had a field day. This sweet honeymoon however ended when the miners, in a daring move started invading the underground mine of AGA. This move, deemed unacceptable by the company was fiercely resisted. Through the Ghana Chamber of Mines and mainstream media, AngloGold Ashanti launched a fierce battle to "flush out" these illegal miners.

Feeling betrayed, the illegal miners directed their anger at the ruling party. At least the former MCE for Obuasi, and now Ashanti Regional Minister designate, Hon. John Alexander Ackon came under a barrage of criticisms for apparently betraying the cause of the local miners. Similarly the current MCE has been reported as also promising the local miners a concession should he get elected as Member of Parliament for Obuasi East. While I will be the first to applaud any move to get local small scale miners a concession, I believe it is dangerous when politicians across the political divide interfere in processes which they have very little or no control over.” (Richard Kojo Ellimah,2016)

Civil society groups
Civil Society Groups in the Municipality who could have said something about the illegal miners and AngloGold Ashanti feud but decided to keep quiet because they feared to be tagged to either NDC or NPP should today bow down their heads in shame.

Albert Einstein’s quote that opens my write up has spoken to them and I believe they will now re-strategize. Mining and Community relations expert like Mr. Richard Ellimah, Mr. Malik bin Ibrahim, Mr. Annan and other major civil society gurus who had all the platforms to broker peace between the Mine and the small scale miners all feared being tagged so decided to relax and keep mute and this the results.

I can never leave out the Media fraternity in Obuasi when I’m talking about those who for all this while have been silent for all this while. Some Journalists in Obuasi who have sacrificed the well-being of the people for money should bow down their heads in shame.

This write up of mine is not to do blame game but to expose the holes that would be filled filled if due diligence was done.

Anglogold Ashanti and security
In a previous write up of mine earlier this year, I mentioned how AngloGold Ashanti must beef up security, that was when thieves had started invading the wire meshed environment of the Mine and taking away valuables.

The Military were brought in from the Uddara Barracks in Kumasi to bring sanity, but for reasons best known to the Security and Sustainability departments of the Mine, they were asked to retreat two weeks ago.

AGA should tell us all what transpired between them and the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources that made them send the Military back and in a twinkle of an eye what we never thought of happened!

They should tell us who made them believe they could still protect the Mine even after the exit of the Military.

Artisans’ small scale miners’
They say they are legally registered and that AGA should allow them work on their old concessions. AGA tells them to channel their grievances to the government or the Minerals Commission but they refuse.

Someone very big in the Municipality who knows only the Minerals Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources can release the concessions, still tell them to pressurise AGA!

We thought they were still in the negotiation process, so why the sudden turn around to allow your boys enter cote’dor/kaase without the knowledge of AGA?

There are no alternative jobs, so the only hope for the strong is to indulge in small scale mining. We don’t blame them that much but due process should be followed.

Some of us who were praying the Minerals Commission will speed up work and grant you your wish are now confused as to keep on praying or stop praying.

Government of Ghana
So the Commander In Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces who we voted to come serve us, could not protect an investor like AngloGold Ashanti and now the number of unemployed youths in the area is becoming alarming day by day.

Only God knows the role they played in scaring Randgold, a potential investor, who we all thought was coming to start operations and cut down on the youth unemployment in the Obuasi Municipality and Ghana as a whole.

The Small Scale Miners in Obuasi petitioned the President to come intervene and speed up the handing over of old concessions to them on 15th December, 2015. It’s been two whole months and we’ve still not heard anything from the President’s office.

The vice President was pulled down here to come commission a lorry station, and the roads were painted and potholes patched for him but when such a serious and sensitive matter came, the Presidency is silent.

Conclusion
I urge the government to step in as soon as possible to do all what they can to bring peace to the Municipality. The negotiations between AngloGold Ashanti and the small scale Miners should produce a long lasting solution. 

What happened on 6th Fbruary,2016 should never happen again.

Long live Obuasi…..Long live Ghana

The writer can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 0249542342