Tension is brewing at Obuasi as some youth in the town have created more than 600 underground tunnels through the concessions of AngloGold Ashanti, claiming that it is their God-given right.
But the mining giant has repulsed the threat from the locals flexing its muscles to seal all the tunnels and increase security to secure its remaining concessions.
AngloGold’s action to seal the tunnels has caused the youth, led by the Obuasi Artisans Small-Scale Mining Association, to organise two major demonstrations at different locations near the concessions.
During demonstrations last Thursday and Friday, the irate youth numbering more than 200, wielding machetes, locally manufactured guns and sticks, literally brought activities at the town to a standstill, creating chaotic scenes.
When the Daily Graphic team got to the scene last Friday, the youth had vandalised a Toyota Trooper belonging to AngloGold, smashing its windscreen. But for the timely intervention of the police, the situation would have been worse.
The mining company, however, said it would not budge in making sure its property is fully protected.
The youth have intensified their demand for their pound of flesh by cutting the wire mesh that protects the mining company’s concession.
The regular cutting of the fencing of the AngloGold property, according to a management source, was increasing the overhead cost of the company.
Meanwhile, the management of the company, as part of finding a solution to the misunderstanding between them and the youth, has been meeting with the leadership of the illegal miners on the way forward.
When contacted, the Security Manager of AngloGold, Mr Francis Ghunney, said the current development was having a very negative effect on the operations of the company.
He appealed to the government to intervene to save the company from being vandalised, saying if care was not taken, the illegal miners might scare potential investors from Obuasi.
Mr Ghunney hinted that despite series of meetings with the Obuasi Municipal Security Council to resolve the issue, there had not been any good results.
The Chairman of the Obuasi Artisans Small-Scale Mining Association, Mr Kofi Adams (alias Kuma), told the Daily Graphic that all they wanted was for AngloGold to release portions of its concessions at Carso and Duafufuoase to them to operate their businesses.
“Once our right is respected and the land given to us, there will be absolute peace between the association and the company,” he said.
The Chairman debunked rumours that the Municipal Chief Executive of Obuasi, Mr Richard Ofori-Agyemang Boadi, was the brain behind the various demonstrations, saying he was only concerned about the peace and security of the area.
AngloGold Ashanti has shut down its old mining site and has relocated upstream where the gold potential is said to be high.
Following the recent challenges in the mining sector, the company laid off a number workers, including indigenes and spent a fortune to resettle them.