LONDON– Several artisanal miners are feared trapped in an underground gold mine shaft in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
Several illegal miners have reportedly entered AngloGold Ltd’s Obuasi mines in search of gold deposits. invaded the region of Anwiam in the Ashanti region. However, officials said miners were unable to leave the site after the entrances were closed.
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana told ABC News that it was aware of reports that illegal miners could be stranded in the northern reaches of its mine.
“The Obuasi Gold Mine management team has notified the relevant authorities and public security services and is working closely with them,” the company said in a statement.
According to local reports, several illegal miners are said to have stayed in the mine. The devastated miners’ family members told local media they had not been able to reach them for four days.
AngloGold tells ABC that so far seven illegal miners have left the mine and are currently in the custody of Ghanaian police.
“Intrusion into underground areas by illegal miners remains an extremely dangerous activity and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is working with authorities to ensure that only authorized personnel and contractors are granted access to underground work areas,” the company said in a statement.
AngloGold has denied that any of the illegal miners were caught or “locked up in any way” and said the main exit ramp – where security guards and police were based – was open.
“Unauthorized persons may exit the underground on foot via the existing ramp through the main entrance to this mining area,” AngloGold’s statement said.
AngloGold Ltd. is the fourth largest gold producer in the world. Accordingly AngloGoldThe Obuasi underground mine extends to a depth of 1,500 meters at its deepest point. The Company has produced 250,000 ounces of gold and employs 4,403 people including contractors.
studies have found that rising unemployment coupled with the lucrative nature of mining has led to an increase in the number of miners, many of whom work illegally to earn a living. Gold mining is a lucrative source of income for both corporate and small-scale and artisanal miners. It is estimated that the artisanal and small-scale mining sectors employ up to 1 million people of Ghana.
Accordingly Ghana’s Minerals and Mining ActIndividuals participating in artisanal mining are required to obtain a license, but regulation of artisanal mining in Africa’s largest gold producer has been largely unsuccessful Research It has been established that over 85% of artisanal mining is still done illegally. According to the ministry, inadequate regulation has also led to human rights violations in artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana, for example to child labour Human Rights Watch.
“Intrusion into underground areas by illegal miners remains an extremely dangerous activity and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is working with authorities to ensure that only authorized mine personnel and contractors have access to underground work areas,” AngloGold told ABC News.
ABC News reached out to the Ghana Minerals Commission, which confirmed the incident was ongoing but declined to comment further.