AngloGold Ashanti Ghana announced that it has withdrawn employees performing non-essential functions at its idled Obuasi Gold Mine for safety reasons following the incursion of illegal miners inside the fenced area of the site.
The decision follows the withdrawal of government military protection from the mine on 2 February, after initial incursions on 30 and 31 January 2016.
“It is important to note that the Ghana Army has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chamber of Mines, on behalf of its members, to deploy military personnel at mining operations,” said AngloGold Ashanti in a statement to the ASX.
“To AngloGold Ashanti’s knowledge, no other mines with a military presence have been affected.”
The company said that the situation at the mine is currently calm but expressed deep concerns about the prevailing conditions, with illegal miners continuing to enter the site.
“If allowed to continue unchecked, illegal mining taking place on parts of the concession, and vandalism of property, could threaten the long-term viability of the mine and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana’s ability to continue its feasibility study and maintain critical services,” the company said.
“AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has informed local authorities, through a declaration of Force Majeure, that under the current situation in may be constrained from fulfilling certain conditions of its Amended Programme of Mining Operations, the permit that covers current activities at Obuasi.”
AngloGold Ashanti said that Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has agreed to send a delegation of high-ranking government officials to examine the situation at the mine, adding that it will continue to urge authorities at a national and local level to assist in upholding the law and returning safety and security to the site before further injuries or further loss of life occurs.
Operations at the Obuasi mine were suspended at the end of 2014 after incurring heavy financial loss over several years. The company is currently conducting a feasibility study needed to determine whether the mine can be redeveloped into a profitable, productive operation once again.