AngloGold Ashanti Reveals Turnaround Plans for Beleaguered Ghana Mine
Substantial efforts are being made to turnaround the fortunes of AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine in Ghana which has lost more than $1bn since the leading gold producer took it over in 2003.
A string of measures are to be implemented in a bid to save the mine including temporarily shutting down the underground operations and the retrenchment of significant number of the 6,500 employees.
It was reported yesterday that the mine’s new Managing Director, Fred Attakumah had met with community leaders where he gave assurances that despite the many challenges faced, his company still intended on pursuing its commitments to the people and the communities.
One of AngloGold Ashanti’s core values is working hand in hand with local stakeholders and communities within which it operates for the overall good of all.
Attakumah pledged to continue working closely with the community and its leaders and urged for their support in the company’s efforts to rebuild and transform the mine.
He was quoted as saying: “It will take some time to fully put the mine on good stead; but take it from us that AngloGold Ashanti’s short and long term plan is to ensure that Obuasi regains its lost position as investors’ brand of choice.”
Meanwhile, AngloGold Ashanti’s Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, discussed the turnaround plans at the group’s quarterly briefing earlier this week.
He said the company had been able to plough cash into the mine while gold prices were up but the current slump had changed everything and labour issues now need to be addressed, but ultimately the business proposition was still very attractive.
He was reported as saying: “We have fundamentally come to the conclusion that the employment model and social model have to change. Obuasi is a challenging asset but technically it can be fixed. I think the softer, social issues were underestimated.”
The company is working closely with the government and will look to retrench workers and then re-employ on a sustainable business model. He said it was hoped that if correctly done the turnaround in the mines fortunes would happen.
It is also hoped that the company may find an investment partner for the mine and a number of opportunities are currently being examined.
AngloGold Ashanti’s March quarter results showed gold production had risen by 17 percent year on year at 1.06 million ounces.
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.