AngloGold says Ghana manager killed in riot over illegal mining

Source:THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION 

ACCRA, Feb 10 (Reuters) - AngloGold Ashanti said on Wednesday its head of corporate affairs in Ghana was killed during a riot involving illegal miners at its Obuasi mine, which is idle as the company waits for a partner for the operation.

The death on Saturday is another setback for the Ghana operation of Africa's top gold producer. AngloGold said earlier it would not seek a new joint venture partner for Obuasi until it had an investment deal with the government.

"John (Owusu) was fatally injured in a car accident as he and colleagues tried to flee after a large group of illegal miners hurled rocks and other projectiles at mine employees, police and security personnel," said a company statement, which called the attack unprovoked.

The military had withdrawn its protection on Feb. 2 after an initial incursion without giving a reason and in violation of a company agreement with the Chamber of Mines, the statement said. There was no immediate comment from the Chamber.

The company has withdrawn all non-essential employees and staff who remain are performing critical tasks including underground pumping and ventilation, the statement said.

Owusu died when a dispute between artisanal miners working on part of the Obuasi site and pressing for access to a larger portion of the mine escalated into a riot, senior union leader Samuel Dwamenah told Reuters from Obuasi.

Randgold Resources in December pulled out of a joint venture with AngloGold to redevelop Obuasi, a decision that could spell closure for one of Ghana's most important mines.

Miners are under pressure due to the slump in the gold price. The difficulties are intensified at the century-old Obuasi mine, which has not turned a profit for more than a decade and requires heavy investment.

AngloGold laid off thousands of workers at the mine in the central Ashanti region in 2014 and suspended its operation but said it would step up investment with a view to reopening in 2016. (Reporting by Ed Stoddard in Cape Town and Matthew Mpoke Bigg in Accra; Editing by Katharine Houreld)

 

 

 

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