Mineworkers reject Anglogold’s contract mining proposal…call for ‘Mining Charter’ in place of development Agreement

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Prince William Ankrah, General Secretary, Ghana Mineworkers' Union (GMWU)

The Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) has rejected moves by mining giant AngloGold Ashanti to move from owner mining to contract mining, a trend the union is already battling Goldfields Limited over in the law courts.

The union, in a press statement, called on Parliament to not ratify the Development Agreement for Anglogold’s Obuasi mine, which the company announced recently that it is reviving with an investment of some US$500million.

Instead, the union is proposing a ‘Mining Charter’, “that seeks to bring in the influence of the community and monitoring mechanisms in the implementing period”.

The call for a mining charter, according to the union, is to facilitate sustainable transformation, growth and development of the mining and minerals industry, which will ensure that the nation and mining communities are not short-changed by mining firms negotiating separate development agreements.

The union said although it welcomes redevelopment of the Obuasi Mine, it is completely against the contract mining idea whereby Anglogold would cede direct operation of the mine to a third party.

When it adopted the contract mining approach, Goldfields explained that it had an aging fleet against the fact that the life-expectancy of its Tarkwa Mine is short – which does not make direct operations viable.

The union however noted that: “A critical concern has to do with the emerging unflinching appetite by mining companies for fixed-term contracts as well as non-standard work patterns that seek to exploit such a skilled workforce.

“Here, the union is poised to challenge the status-quo to avert any such contemplation.  In effect, it is illogical to have a mine with a two-decade mine-life backed by enough mineral reserves put employees in an employment format likely to impact negatively on their performance. Indeed, the ILO asserts that insecure jobs have a negative impact on productivity.”

It further said: “AngloGold Ashanti should note that the union has already secured a Collective Bargaining Certificate that allows it to negotiate on behalf of existing as well as potential new members”.

The call for a mining charter according to the union is to facilitate sustainable transformation, growth and development of the mining and minerals industry – which will ensure that the nation and mining communities are not short-changed by mining firms negotiating separate DA’s.

AngloGold’s Announcement on Obuasi Mine

AngloGold Ashanti last week announced that it would revive the Obuasi Gold Mine soon after reaching an agreement with government for redevelopment of the mine, turning it into a “modern productive mining operation”.

The company said it will invest an initial US$500million in bringing the mine back to life, with first gold pour expected in the third quarter of 2019.

The agreement also includes a development agreement and a tax concession agreement that is awaiting parliamentary approval, as well as a security agreement – and a reclamation security agreement while environmental impact assessments are completed, as well.

Data from Anglogold show that, with a mining life of 21 years, Obuasi has reserves of 5.8 million ounces and will operate at costs lower than the company’s current average. 

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