The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) met with the Obuasi Artisanal Miners on May 10, 2016 in Obuasi, to acquaint itself with the current issues relative the complaint filed by AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) at International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on the encroachment of the illegal artisanal miners on AGA concessions. Present at the meeting were the National President of GNASSM Mr. Collins Osei Kusi; the General Secretary Mr. Godwin Amarh & the National P.R.O. Francis Opoku; others are the Dunkwa Mining District Centre Officer Mr. Wilson Zoogah of the Minerals Commission; Nii Adjetey-Kofi Mensah of Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Africa-Network (ASMAN) and Chairman Kumah Adams of the Obuasi Artisanal Miners, amongst others.

Background
At an International Conference in 2009 at Elmina-Ghana, organized by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) on the collaboration of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) with Large Scale Mining Companies; AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) presented their case to rally support for military/police flush on the Obuasi Artisanal Miners, but was advised to use Dialogue, as the latter bring lasting peace and more cost effective.
This gave birth to the dialogue between the Obuasi Artisanal Miners and AGA. This Dialogue caught the attention of Government, and the then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Collins Dauda met both parties at Obuasi and formed a three-man inter-regulatory committee headed by Mr. James Adjei of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to facilitate the process.

The Artisanal Miners managed to negotiate an informal deal with AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) to mine their abandoned pits. This was short lived as the artisanal miners over-stepped their bounds and there were a lot of issues relative to security connivance and others. Another deal was agreed upon, informal however, for the artisanal miners to concentrate and work at Cowso, their present location.

The challenge
AGA has taken Ghana government to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on the encroachment by illegal miners on its concession. AGA is a multi-
national company, with frequent change in Management. There is no documentary evidence on all the above negotiations between the Artisanal Miners and the then AGA Management on their stay at Cowso. The dichotomy here is, the miners numbering over 7,000 have made a lot of infrastructural investment relative to equipment and machinery and other mine developments over the period.

The way forward 
Government have received shed off area from AGA and it’s been blocked out for small scale miners in and around Obuasi. This was re-echoed to the miners by Mr. Wilson Zoogah, and advised the miners to take advantage of this released land (blocked out areas) and relocate.

The General Secretary of the GNASSM Godwin Amarh, also advised the Artisanal Miners to take advantage of the released lands and take the necessary steps to acquire space at the released area immediately before too late, even as GNASSM, the national association forward their concerns to AGA through Government.
Nii Adjetey-Kofi Mensah of ASMAN then advised the Artisanal Miners to be law abiding and assure them of the support of Civil Society Organization (CSO) through the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM), as their concerns receive the necessary attention. He said a position paper would be developing to critically examine the issues and a proposal put forward.
The National President of GNASSM, Collins Kusi wish this international arbitration would find a lasting solution to the problems of both AGA and the Artisanal Miners. In a closing remarks he was hopeful the outcome would be a win-win situation; for AGA to have an uninterrupted working environment whilst the Obuasi Artisanal Miners have licensed concessions to work on for Sustainable Development of Small Scale Mining in Ghana.

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(Source – Nii Adjetey-Kofi Mensah of ASMAN: 0208161636: niiadjeteykofi@gmail.com)

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