Africa is one of the four operating regions of Newmont Mining Corporation, the world’s second leading gold mining company. Newmont Ahafo Mine, located at Kenyasi in the Asutifi North District of Brong-Ahafo Region is one of the gold mining operations of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL).
Active mining began at Ahafo in June 2006, after the company had successfully resettled. Reserves stood at 9.3 million gold equivalent ounces as at December 2015 and in October 2016, the mine produced its 5,000,000th ounces of gold.
The Mine’s operations affected 10 communities – Kenyasi number one, Kenyasi number two, Gyedu, Ntotroso and Wamahinso in Asutifi North as well as Terchire, Susuanso, Yamfo, Adrobaa and Afirisipakrom in the Tano North District.
At its plant site, the Ahafo Mine operates four open pits – surface mining and it’s currently studying potential growth projects. The Ghana Chamber of Mines named the Ahafo Mine as Ghana’s mining company of the year in 2016.
As the Mine goes underground in June this year at its Subika Pit, it adds 150,000 to 200,000 ounces of gold to the company’s annual production. Currently, the Mine is producing between 315,000 and 345,000 ounces of gold annually, and production is expected to jump to around 550,000 and 600,000 ounces by 2018.
Close to US$200 million dollars was spent in the construction and development of the Subika underground pit, and commercial production at the pit is expected to commence by the second half of 2018.
Economic and Social Performance
In 2016, the Ahafo Mine generated US$1.03 billion proceeds and paid US$78 million, which is US$36 million and US$42 million dollars as royalties and taxes respectively to the government, while it spent US$363 million in the Ghanaian economy.
Providing jobs, paying taxes and royalties, sourcing with local businesses, investing in community programmes and infrastructure, and fostering mutually beneficial relationships remain crucial for the company’s long term success and ability to be a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development.
“Our ability to explore for, develop and operate mines near communities depends on our ability to do so in a manner that creates social and economic benefits in the surrounding communities”, says Mr. Daniel Egya-Mensah, the Acting General Manager of the Ahafo Mine.
He said the company is committed to strong and good corporate governance, multi-stakeholder engagement, and transparency around payments to local and central governments in order to increase accountability, develop trust, create mutual value and reduce corruption.
“The jobs we generate, goods and services we procure, investments we make in community programmes and infrastructure, and taxes and royalties we pay to central and local governments can help catalyse socio-economic development, support essential government services and programmes, and raise the standard of living in host communities”, Mr. Egya-Mensah added.
In the mining sector, hiring and sourcing from local suppliers benefits host communities in many ways including reduced poverty, improved skills and the opportunity to achieve long-term growth and economic diversification.
Aligning local and indigenous employment with broader global inclusion and diversify strategy is a significant area of focus of the Ahafo Mine. To that effect, at the end of 2016, local community members represented 39.2 per cent at the Ahafo Mine’s total workforce (inclusive of contractors).
The mine’s apprenticeship programme also offers skills, mechanical and electrical specialist training and graduates of the programme are offered employment in variety of roles including process operators, specialised trades and maintenance.
Out of a total of 182 graduates, since the programme began in 2005, the mine currently employs 128 of them.
The Ahafo Mine works with host communities to invest in education, health, local economic development, infrastructure improvements and capacity development programme. These investments, is in diverse ways helping to address challenges, catalyse long-term development and minimise dependency on the mine during operations and closure.
In addition to direct investments, the Mine’s operations make toward community infrastructure and social programmes, operations at the Ahafo Mine has established community foundation- the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF) that supports the community needs during the Mine’s life and after operation had ceased.
NADeF remains the Company’s flagship social responsibility fund set up to support development projects in the 10 communities affected by the Mine’s operations. The Mine has set aside US$1 per ounce of gold sold and one per cent of annual net profit to be channeled into the Foundation for sustainable development projects in the 10 host communities.
According to Mr. Kwame Agbeko Azumah, the Manager, Communications and External Relations of the Mine, last year the Mine contributed approximately US$935,000 to the NADeF.
The total contribution of the Company into the Foundation stands at US$24.5 million, since it was established in 2007. Last year, NADeF in partnership with the Bright Generations Foundation established a bamboo bicycle manufacturing facility at Gyedu to train and employ the youth from Gyedu and Ntotroso.
The facility is expected to annually produce 375 bamboo bicycle frames for local and international markets. So far, the mine has invested US$4.08 million in local communities in the country through monetary and in-kind support.
It is no doubt that the safety of the people and the local communities within the Ahafo Mine remains the Mine’s top priority with the right to life and right to safe working conditions. Mining involves hazards that include; working with mobile equipment, heavy machinery, explosives and electrical systems.
The Ahafo mine, however, strongly believe it is possible to effectively manage the risks associated with these hazards so that every employee returns home safe at the end of the day.
Its Health and Safety Policy details are commitment to protecting workers, business partners and visitors as well. Critical to the company’s efforts at preventing fatalities and serious injuries are rigour and discipline around identifying those risks that can lead to fatalities or serious injuries and implementing the appropriate systems, processes and controls.
To achieve its goals, the Mine focuses on fatality prevention, employee engagements and leadership and according to its 2016 Africa Sustainability Report, no fatalities has occurred at the Ahafo site since 2015.
“Our global Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) of 0.32 remained unchanged compared to 2015.While this performance was among the best of all International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) member companies, we did not achieve our goal to reduce the rate by another 10 percent”, the report added.
Besides, the Ahafo mine, has implemented several initiatives to engage employees and business partners in adopting safety standards and systems. These initiatives contribute to the company’s impressive safety records and journey towards its ultimate goal of zero harm.
Consequently, last year, the Minerals Commission voted the Ahafo mine operation as one of the safest Mine’s in Ghana for the second consecutive year.
The Ahafo Mine currently adheres to the highest standards of internationally acceptable environmental best practices. Its employees and business partners abide by standards that protect both human and the environment in which the Company operates.
The Mine has reclamation plans in place and is implementing concurrent reclamation to restore previously mined areas. According to Mr. Derek Boateng, Senior Manager, Sustainability and External Affairs of the Mine, 125 hectares of land had so far been reclaimed with Odum, Oframa, Mahogany and other tree species since 2007.
The mine’s operations also rely on access to water sources. With populations growing and climate change impacting the predictability of water suppliers, the company’s water risks are becoming increasingly broad and complex.
In fact, the right to clean drinking water is one of the salient human rights abuses associated with mining. The mine’s commitment to create a positive water stewardship legacy is stated in its Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy and guiding its approach to fulfilling this commitment is the company’s Management Standard, which sets the minimum requirement to proactively plan, manage and monitor risks and performance throughout the Mine’s life cycle to protect human health, environment and water resources.
In 2016 operations, the Mine continued work on the construction of a Reverse Osmosis (RO) water treatment plant and are working with the Environmental Protection Agency on permitting approvals.
To ensure water discharged from RO plant meets all standards, the Company intends to construct an additional treatment train – a sequence of treatment processes – for the brine from the RO. The Mine has also built small potable water systems and formed Water and Sanitation Committee (WATSAN) – composed of trained committee members to develop the knowledge needed for community members to ultimately and independently manage their water systems.
In 2010, work started on the Kenyasi Water Project – an expansion and integration of water systems and today, there are three water systems serving the more than 50,000 residents, and activity is expected to continue with additional boreholes and construction of new overhead reservoir.