The management of Goldfields Ghana says no firm decision had been reached on the lay-off of workers as the company was still evaluating the best mining model to adopt in the face of the depletion of resources.
At a press conference in Accra, the Executive Vice-President and Head of West Africa, Mr Alfred Baku, said the company was still considering whether to move from the owner mining model to a contractor mining regime.
He said gold production had reduced, while cost of production had gone very high, pointing out that these had posed some challenges to the company.
“As a company, we envisage to go about our activities in a sustainable manner and so we decided to move from one mining module to another, taking into consideration factors such as the fluctuating prices of gold, the cost of labour, reagent cost and the use of technology,” he said.
While admitting that some workers would be affected if the contractor mining model was adopted, Mr Baku however said that the evaluation process was still ongoing and that the exact number of workers to be affected would be known once the exercise was concluded.
“Even if it happens that some workers will go at the end of the evaluation process, about 85 per cent of those workers will still be recruited by the contractor. So, in effect, only 15 per cent of the number that we will come up with may have to be paid off according to the collective bargaining agreement,” he said.
He said the decision to make a change from its current mining model to the contractor regime was because of the unfavourable factors it envisaged, adding that, aggressive exploration activities, which are ongoing, could change the picture.
He said strategic planning was based on current financial conditions, and current reserves, and that, exploration success was not guaranteed and furthermore Goldfields Ghana did not have control over gold prices.
Mr Baku said the workers were informed about the likely changes in the mining model on March 20, this year.
“The company clearly explained to the union that the effective mine life is five to six years at current rate before the mine goes into a significant ramp down mode as it approaches reserve depletion,” he said.
He maintained that the workers had been engaged in all the dimensions of the change process, noting that, the current agitation was because of the natural tendency for every human being to resist change.