AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has asked the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) to make an urgent order compelling the Government of Ghana to use its authority to return peace and stability to the Obuasi Gold Mine, following an invasion of illegal miners now in its fifth month.
The process, known formally as a Request for Provisional Measures, is available to applicants seeking urgent relief in an ongoing dispute. The company hopes the intervention will help bring an end to the unchecked ransacking of the mine’s orebody and vandalism of critical mine infrastructure. A ruling would be expected soon after the Tribunal is constituted, which is anticipated later this year.
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is continuing to seek engagement with government at a local and national level, but these talks have thus far failed to yield meaningful sustained intervention by the authorities. This inexplicable lack of action by the authorities has emboldened the growing number of illegal miners to intensify their activities in increasingly dangerous conditions, causing significant damage to the general environment, jeopardising the mine’s future viability and comprising the rights of the community and investors in Ghana alike. This has forced the company to turn to Washington, D.C.-based ICSID to break the impasse, as provided for in the Mining Lease.
Recently, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana announced the tragic death of nine illegal miners at the site in the past few weeks. Since then, there has been at least one other confirmed fatality, with continued reports of illegal-miner casualties. AngloGold Ashanti Ghana has reported these deaths to relevant authorities, along with regular updates on the situation on site, warning of the growing potential for a significant underground accident if this large-scale illegal mining is allowed to continue.
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana hopes commencement of ICSID proceedings and Request for Provisional Measures will expedite the reinstatement of law and order at the mine. Only once there is clear evidence of restoration of law and order, can the company obtain sole use of the site and commence the process of fully assessing the condition of the site.