The National Democratic Congress in the Obuasi West and East Constituencies has criticized the NPP government for politicizing the reopening of the Obuasi Mine which took place yesterday, January 22, 2019 in Obuasi. The press statement released by the Party noted that the issues the Mine encountered in 2016 with regards to illegal miners were nothing new and its worse form happened during the Kuffour government.
“For the avoidance of doubt and for the sake of clarity, let us drum home the point that no government knowingly or unknowingly caused the company to embark on its care and maintenance program. The factors that led to the redevelopment of the mine are public knowledge and were not as a result of the actions or inactions of the NDC government,” the statement said.
Read the full statement below:
THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS:
OBUASI WEST AND EAST CONSTITUENCIES
for immediate Release
REOPENING OF THE OBUASI MINE AND THE NEEDLESS POLITICIZATION
The National Democratic Congress in the Obuasi West and East Constituencies has learnt with disquiet the way and manner the New Patriotic Party and the Nana Addo-led government pathetically politicized the reopening of the Obuasi Mine which took place yesterday, January 22, 2019 in Obuasi. Much as we condemn the needless politicization of the reopening of AGA, we wish to express our profound joy for the rebirth of the Obuasi Mine which has contributed immensely to the local economy in particular and the national economy in general. Over the last few years that the Obuasi Mine was placed under care and maintenance, the adverse impact this has visited on Obuasi is pretty much unimaginable. To the extent that the reopening of the mine will inject life into the almost moribund Obuasi makes it refreshing and this should be embraced by all well-meaning persons. We join the many people in Obuasi in celebrating the coming back of the mine. The NDC could not have been much happier.
Ordinarily, we would and should not have responded to the NPP’s reckless politicization of the matter because it is not an issue that should be politicized at all but for the distortion of the narrative and the wholesale credit taking. It is on this basis that we deem it worth the while to correct the misrepresentations and to set the records straight.
It is important to state that the ugly phenomenon of invasion of the mine by illegal miners has a history. It would be recalled that during President John Agyekum Kufour’s reign, there was an invasion of the mine by illegal miners that led to the infamous “burning of tyres” and gunshots by the military. Indeed, this was the worst form of invasion ever. Several persons got injured as a result. The situation, it must be mentioned, was not handled with fineness due to the somewhat inexperience displayed by the military. Since then, the company has stuck to its core values of sustainability and improving community relations. Then between 2007 and 2008, there was yet another invasion launched by illegal miners. Its negative impact on the mine was huge and telling. The said invasion affected the “Adansi Pillar” that supports the shaft barrel. This nearly collapsed the North Mine (Adansi). Despite the continuous security presence when the NDC took over the reins of government in 2009, the phenomenon still persisted. The government then had to engage the so-called illegal miners just to broker a deal taking cognizance of respect for human dignity. This got the NDC government to dialogue with the small scale miners on the one hand and AGA on the other hand. All this was under the able leadership of Hon. John Alexander Ackon, the then MCE for Obuasi. It yielded positive results as we were able to move all the illegal miners from underground operations and normalcy was restored.
At that juncture, we thought the problem was over but we were terribly wrong. As part of securing conflict resolution, few of the illegal miners settled at “Coral Snake” and existed peacefully with the mine. As time went on, other illegal miners in connivance with some workers of the company, once again, intruded into the core operational area of the mine. At this time, President John Dramani Mahama had to take tough decisions so as to save the mine. The military were deployed to the mine to protect it against encroachers. It was a huge success and that resulted in the stationing of the military at Ofori Stadium for the first time.
It is worth mentioning that the mine itself had decided to embark on a care and maintenance project for some twenty-four (24) months. Consequently, almost all the workers of the company had to be declared redundant because of the redevelopment project leaving few behind to see to the care and maintenance agenda. This was some time in 2014. The reason that motivated the move was the unprofitable nature of the mine largely because of the plummeting prices of gold in the world market at the time and the waste in the system as a result of unproductive human resource. The company then decided to clean the system and to come back stronger. The government supported the project and assisted in making sure that workers were given commensurate compensation packages.
Then some time in 2016, the phenomenon of invasion of the mine reared its ugly head again. The company, in the circumstance, sought government’s intervention relative to military presence. It was an election year but the government defied all the odds as regards the electoral consequences considering the crucial nature of the mine to national development. Government responded positively by deploring the military to the mine. Immediately, there were complaints by some people of Obuasi of manhandling by the military. This was denied but the government had to reach some middle ground to ensure a win- win situation. Consequently, government caused a committee christened, “Movement Committee” to be formed under the Minerals Commission which was then headed by Dr. Tony Aubyn. The committee did a whole lot of stakeholder consultations with the full support of AGA headed by Eric Asubonteng. The result was that AGA reconsidered its concession and took hold of forty per cent (40%) and gave sixty per cent (60%) to the community. A roadmap was thereafter drawn for the eventual withdrawal of the illegal miners from the mine and their relocation to the new area. This agreement was finally jointly signed by the then MCE for Obuasi, Hon. Richard Ofori Agyeman-Boadi and the Deputy Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission under the auspices of the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council headed by the then Ashanti Regional Minister, Hon. John Alexander Ackon. This move paved the way for the company to work in peace since ever and this made the company successfully complete its care and maintenance project which culminated in the reopening of the mine. The sixty per cent concession was supposed to be processed and given out to small scale miners to work on. Unfortunately, the NDC lost power in the 2016 elections and we don’t know what has since become of this 60% concession.
Having given these historical antecedents, it is now abundantly clear that credit taking or politicization of the reopening of the mine by anybody or group of persons is definitely not the way to go if indeed anybody has the development of Obuasi at heart. Let the point be made that the reopening of the mine was not an event; obviously it was a process. The NDC sees AGA as a strategic state asset and will do any and everything to protect it. It is on the basis of this that the NDC was fully represented at the reopening ceremony yesterday.
For the avoidance of doubt and for the sake of clarity, let us drum home the point that no government knowingly or unknowingly caused the company to embark on its care and maintenance program. The factors that led to the redevelopment of the mine are public knowledge and were not as a result of the actions or inactions of the NDC government. We wish to commend the Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti, Eric Asubonteng who is an insider, for his display of professionalism and candor. His speech at the reopening ceremony yesterday settled the matter and shot down any attempt by anyone to do needless politics with a private company that has done so much for this country. The following excerpt culled from Mr. Asubonteng’s speech yesterday at the reopening ceremony by Citi Business News is worthy of note: “The Obuasi Mine wasn’t making profit as at 2014; it wasn’t running effectively so we had to take a step back and suspend operations” – Eric Asubonteng [Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti] #CitiCBS. We, in the NDC, will not even take credit, albeit we have played a major role in the bouncing back of the mine, because AGA is for the good of the community. Whether NDC or NPP, what holds sway is the hope and expectation that the good people of Obuasi in particular and Ghanaians in general will be impacted positively by the coming back of the mine. Thankfully, the cheap propaganda by the NPP that the NDC collapsed the Obuasi mine is hereby summarily dismissed and thrown into the trashcan. For the record and the education of the NPP, the mine never collapsed; it was a planned and deliberate shutdown by the company in order to reinvigorate it. It’s heartwarming to note that key industry players at the time including Dr. Tony Aubyn, Former CEO of the Minerals Commission, have spoken and set the records straight. Dr. Tony Aubyn in an interview with Radio XYZ on the matter on Wednesday January 23, was emphatic that the then government never collapsed the Obuasi Mine.*
We conclude by calling on all to support AGA for a better Ghana and stop reaping where they did not sow.
Long live AGA! Long live Obuasi! Long live Ghana!
(Obuasi West Constituency Sec.)
William Kofi Adzowu
(Obuasi East Constituency Sec.)