The fate of 7500 workers hangs in the balance as AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) is considering shutting down its Obuasi mine to develop underground pits and contain losses, Accra-based newspaper Graphic Business reported yesterday.
The proposal to restructure the 117-year-old goldmine, put on the table by the management, is waiting to be approved by the board.
“Although the mine is making progress in some areas, it is far from profitability as it is still making losses,” a company’s highly-placed source told the weekly newspaper.
The news has caused consternation in many families of the workers, who foresee hard times ahead if the board approves the proposal.
“It’ll be like a death sentence if my brother is laid off because that job helps the family to survive,” one stressed woman told Moon of the South in the capital Accra.
“Why can’t they find another way of dealing with this problem, laying people off in the current hostile economic climate is unfair and inhuman,” University of Ghana student Albert Frimpong said.
Many people in this West African oil producing nation are facing hardships, as cost of life continues to rise in the face of the country’s economic turbulence, leaving the government with no option but to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it survive.
The newspaper said another way of dealing with the Obuasi mine might be to find partnerships or joint-ventures.
However, the source poked at that idea, saying: “I don’t think any investor will put any additional money in the Obuasi mine in its current state.”
The Obuasi mine currently produces 300 000 ounces of gold a year, but at current overheads it will have to at least double that capacity to stay profitable, the newspaper said, adding that the mine faces challenges such as overaged equipment, activities of illegal miners, poor security and inadequate power supply.
Ghana is currently Africa’s second-largest gold producer behind South Africa.