story By Kwabena Adu Koranteng
AngloGold Ashanti has announced it is closing down its Obuasi Mine which employs about six thousand workers and has begun a gradual process of laying off its staff.
Closing down the Obuasi mine which has existed for about 200 years and served as a source of livelihood for the inhabitants and settlers in the area will spell doom for them and the nation as well.
It also means that government will lose a huge chunk of revenue it generates for national development.
The closure of the Obuasi mine will automatically make Obuasi ?a ghost town since the inhabitants who are?? mostly, skilled laborers will move to other mining communities where their services are needed to settle.
The Closure of the Obuasi Mine is also likely to encourage illegal mining among the youth who would have to survive in this ?harsh economic and living conditions by all means.
After more than 150 years of mining at Obuasi nothing good or better could be said about the positive development of the town. The roads linking the town are in highly deplorable state. The entire land of Obuasi has been contaminated with chemicals like cyanide. Foodstuffs grown in the area like Orange cassava Pawpaw are all contaminated and have become harmful to human health.
The Gold Mining Company has not done much for the Inhabitants apart from establishing a football team that?s Ashanti Gold Soccer Club to entertain itsstaff.
Accessing health care in Obuasi and its surroundings is very difficult except you the staff of the company. Access to Pipe born water is very difficult in Obuasi and its surrounding communities due to the constant pollution of rivers through mining activities. Most people in the area depend on bore holes for water. Quality schools are available for the rich and the expatriate staff. The poor have no choice but attend low class government schools.
While some elements of the Ghanaian society are criticizing the company?s decision to significantly reduce its labour numbers,?about 90% of the workers at AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi mine together with their union leaders have welcomed the decision as ?tough and painful but necessary measure? which will ensure the operation?s survival and profitability in the long run.
?Interviews conducted by media groups in Obuasi noted that the offer on table for the employees is so generous and irresistible that they cannot refused and that it will be pure barmy to turn it down. It is one of the generous compensation for retrenchment.
? It heavily favour employees who have to retire at 55years and have worked on the mine from 7years and above. The one to 5 years may not benefit significant but could the base for reemployment?.
?We know and ?understand the challenges facing the old mine and our well thought advise is that ?the mine should be put under a well-planned care and maintenance ?mode to enable management to ?intensify development for more stopes to be made for mining?, Peter Azuri a miner said. The mine is over 100 years, infrastrure is very poor, backfill is a problem so ?putting the underground mine under care and maintenance will create huge opportunity for these problems to be fixed once and for all.
Kwesi Hazel ?an underground miner said ?We are mentally and physically tired after working underground for over 26 years. I have only six months to retire. We commend AngloGold Ashanti for its generous ?decision to pay us off to restart our lives elsewhere, though? I remember fondly the free medical and the two ? bed flat at Anyinam Sam Jonah Estate? which I pay ?only GH2 a month?.This came to light when the union leaders met the miners last weekend at Obuasi Wawase Sports club. Daniel Aboa, a senior staff with 24 years? experience noted that ?given the deep ? seated challenges ?facing both surface and underground ?it makes economic and technical sense to overhaul the whole underground system and restart the mine on ?clean slate, especially? the underground, where 92% of Obuasi?s problems are located,?
According to? the underground worker the ?management offer is irresistible and shows AngloGold Ashanti is responsible company. This explains why overwhelming majority of the workers want to cash in and leave?.In?a related development, the leaders of the Ghana Mine Workers Union and the Professional and Managerial Staff Union said they agree to the decisions made by the company at a meeting last month ?and said they hope production will resume later . ?it just came to light that they are going to lay employees off to put the Obuasi under ?care and maintenance? and to bring it? back in 18 ? 24 months, ?PMSU Secretary Samuel Dwamenah? said.
It has also been hit ? hard by a slump in gold prices in 2013. ?Cutting jobs is not pleasant thing to do, but in this case we all believe and have agreed that it is the better evil. The other alternative is to allow the situation to deteriorate further and one day the Obuasi mine will be no more,? Prince William Ankrah, general secretary of the GMWU said. Each worker is expected to go home with not less than US50, 000 dollars.