AngloGold Ashanti has announced that it is continuing with its underground development and important work related to the Obuasi Redevelopment Project, while a detailed review of the mine plan is conducted in the coming months.
Work has resumed in the ODD Decline and in several development headings. Diamond drilling, service functions and underground construction, among other activities, have also resumed. Underground stoping activities, halted after a fall-of-ground incident on May 18, remain suspended pending the conclusion of the review and implementation of recommendations from an investigation into the incident. AngloGold Ashanti estimates mining could restart by year-end, with a ramp-up to previously planned production levels through the course of 2022.
“We are focused on understanding and dealing with the current issues and resuming the ramp-up as soon as possible,” said Eric Asubonteng, Managing Director of Obuasi Gold Mine. “Obuasi remains an excellent asset and an important one for us, as a company, for the community and for Ghana as a whole.”
AngloGold Ashanti remains firmly committed to the Obuasi Redevelopment Project, which will revive one of the world’s largest gold ore bodies and create a modern, mechanized mining operation over more than 20 years. Employees and contractors will be engaged in the ongoing project development in the coming months, while AngloGold Ashanti will use the production stoppage to continue to train and develop skills of the workforce ahead of the restart.
As the investigation progresses and the assessment of working places advances, the Company will provide an update on the resumption of additional mining fronts.
“We remain committed as ever to responsibly operating this important ore body for the benefit of all stakeholders,” Asubonteng said. “Obuasi has a long future ahead of it. It is important that we proceed deliberately and carefully as we complete our programme of checks and balances in each mining section.”
Prior to the suspension of underground mining activities at Obuasi, the mine produced 85,000oz in the first half of 2021 at a total cash cost of $999/oz and an All-in Sustaining Cost of $1,316/oz.
About Obuasi Gold Mine
Obuasi Gold Mine is one of the world’s largest gold ore bodies, with 29.5Moz of Mineral Resource, at an average grade of 7.64 grams per tonne and 8.7Moz of Ore Reserve at an average grade of 8.6 grams per tonne. Obuasi, an underground operation, mining to a depth of 1,500m, is in the Ashanti region, approximately 60km south of Kumasi.
The mine currently employs 850 staff and 3,000 contractors, with about 98% of all positions filled by Ghanaians. Obuasi was in limited operations in 2015, and on care and maintenance from 2016 to the start of its redevelopment in mid-2018, following the receipt of the requisite approvals from the Government of Ghana.
The first face blast took place in February 2019, with first gold poured in December 2019. Phase 1 of the redevelopment project was completed by the end of September 2020 and began commercial production on 1 October 2020. Phase 2, construction and mine development, was 97% complete at the end of the first quarter of 2021, with the production ramp-up in progress.
The Company has an active youth apprenticeship programme, with graduated 55 young artisans last year and another 80 enrolled in 2021. In addition, 13 people are currently enrolled in its graduate trainee programme. AngloGold Ashanti facilitated the opening in 2019 of the Obuasi campus of Ghana’s renowned Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), through the provision of campus buildings and accommodation for staff and students. The satellite campus now has 1,000 students enrolled in a number of Bachelor of Science courses.
Local businesses are prioritised in Obuasi’s supply chain, with more than 80% of the total investment in the mine’s redevelopment spent in Ghana, split evenly between wholly Ghanaian owned businesses and multinationals registered in Ghana. The support of local businesses is a key strategic objective for the Company, and 100 small and medium-sized businesses have been trained and certified through the Company’s Enterprise Development Programme.
AngloGold Ashanti’s malaria control programme in the Obuasi area is one of the continent’s most successful public health initiatives, with a 90% reduction in malaria cases since the intervention started in 2005. We work with the Global Fund on this malaria programme, extending to 16 districts in Ghana, protecting more than one million people. This has led to a significant drop in related school as well as work absenteeism and creates more than 1,300 seasonal community jobs each year.
The mine has played a key role in the fight against COVID-19, providing healthcare facilities for the community as well as personal protective equipment, sanitiser, handwashing facilities and public education to help contain the virus outbreak.