Retrenchment By Mining Companies Promotes Illegal Mining

Mr Yaw Effa-Baafi, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has expressed fear that the on-going retrenchment by mining companies as a result of decline in gold price would promote illegal mining activities in the country. He said some of the local high skilled mine workers knew specific areas where the gold is and might go back there alone for the gold when they are retrenched. The Deputy Minister was speaking at the signing of the Ahafo Social Responsibility Forum (ASRF) Agreement between Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) and the 10 mine-take communities of the Ahafo mine at Kenyasi in Asutifi District of Brong-Ahafo Region, in Sunyani. The 53-member ASRF, made up of representatives of NGGL, Traditional Councils, the District Assembly, community groups and Non-Governmental Organisations in the 10 mine-take communities was established in 2007. It represents the people in the mine’s catchment areas, in planning and executing of the company’s social responsibility programmes. Mr Effa-Baafi said mining companies were facing numerous challenges because of the decline in gold price on the international market but suggested that the companies should consider reducing costs which do not go into actual mining. The Deputy Minister said the intention of NGGL to lay-off 500-600 workers in the coming months in the bid to sustain viable operations in the country would have dare consequences on the affected workers and their dependents. “I hope the company will retrench those who do little work in the mine and collect huge salaries”, he said. He appealed to the Ghana Chamber of Mines to come out with suggestions on how mining companies could help control illegal mining by sponsoring prospective small scale miners. While appealing to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to establish their district mining committees to oversee mining activities in their areas, Mr Effa-Baafi appealed to traditional rulers to support the MMDAs to properly manage mining activities in their areas. Mr Jeop Coenen, General Manager of the Ahafo Mine, said the price of gold remained low while costs kept on soaring to levels that require the company to do something to continue to operate.