Business News of 2014-08-25

Parliament urges AGA employees to save mine from challenges

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy has urged AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) employees to double their contribution to save the mine from its current challenges.

Apparently overwhelmed by the sheer size and technological scale of the operation, Dr Kwabena Donkor, on behalf of the committee, expressed happiness with the professionalism of the AGA employees but urged them to double their contribution to save the mine from its current challenges.

The 13-member select team, including two research assistants, paid a two-day working visit to the mines to assess the retrenchment exercise and to look at the sustainability plan of AngloGold for the next generation.

The team, led by Dr Kwabena Donkor, the Member of Parliament for Pru in Brong Ahafo Region, included K. T. Hammond, MP for Adansi Asokwa; Edward Ennin, MP for Obuasi East; Kwaku Kwateng, MP Obuasi West; Kwaku Agyekum, Deputy Minister, Local Government; Ben Aryee, MP, Upper Denkyira; Joseph Cudjoe, MP for Effia, Takoradi; William Owurako Aidoo, Kwabere South; Robert Mosorale, MP for Talensi and Mustapha Yusuf, MP for Yagakabore.

The rest were Issac Asiamah, MP for Atwima Mponua; Adam Mutawakilu, Damango; Mahama Nasser, Ayawaso East; Benjamin Tachie Antiedu and Cephas Egbefome (research assistants)

The MPs were also happy with the company’s engagement with its stakeholders, especially the government and the transparent way it was discussing its challenges.

They commended the management of AngloGold Ashanti, Ghana, for the appreciable retrenchment packages given to 1,000 of the affected workforce, saying that if managed properly, the affected workers must ‘not suffer.’

On July 18, the company presented to the government a ‘master plan’ on how the mines could be sustained for the next generation. It is being studied by the Minerals Commission to enable it to advise the government appropriately.

The team, however, said a preliminary study of the document looks very promising, but it “will need to do a careful study and, if possible, make inputs,” Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, the MP for Obuasi West, told the Daily Graphic in a conversation.

“Naturally, no one should be happy if someone is being sent home, but I think the situation at AngloGold has been managed properly, and I am ok with it,” he said.

AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine is currently undergoing painful, but necessary change to ensure the survival and profitability of the operation, which is 117 years old.

Over 1,000 employees have been retrenched and more are expected to follow. The company is currently engaged with stakeholders, especially the government of Ghana, the unions and employees for their support.

“The unions are happy, and the workers are also happy, thanks to the salubrious package being paid to the workers, one of the long-serving miners, 54-year-old Kwaku Amoakoada, who has worked there for 28 years, said.

In his presentation, AngloGold Ashanti, Ghana Senior Vice-President, Mr Mark Morcombe, outlined the complex challenges facing the Obuasi operation but assured the MPs that the Obuasi operation had the right resources and reserves; however, the mine’s infrastructure had to be developed to enable it to produce more gold on profitable basis for long time.

The Managing Director of the mine, Mr Fred Attakumah, said in spite of its challenges, “the company is walking its talk in terms of sustainable and community interventions in the communities in Obuasi and other parts of the country.”

He also said the AngloGold Ashanti Community Trust Fund, which recently inaugurated projects in the Obuasi and Amansie communities costing GH¢600,000, to improve the lives of residents.

The MD said in line with its values to ensure the communities and the societies where the company operated benefited from its presence, the AGAi Malaria Programme with its partners, especially the Switzerland-based Global Fund, was actively up-scaling the Obuasi anti-malaria programme in 40 districts, most of which were in the Upper Regions, to reduce incidents of malaria.

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