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8,700 jobs lost in gold price fall - Ghana Web

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

More than 8,700 workers in the local mining industry lost their jobs last year as volatility of gold price on the world market took a toll on the gold sector, data from the Chamber of Mines has revealed.

At the peak of gold production in 2013, mining companies employed 21,103 workers but that number was whittled down to 12,382, as companies took drastic measures to cut down operational costs.

The drop in the labour force of gold producing members of the Mines Chamber mean that about 41 percent of the sector’s total workforce lost their means of livelihood mainly on account of the phased employee rationalisation.

AngloGold Ashanti, sent home 430 workers in 2013 amid a 28 percent fall in the gold price, and trimmed a significant part of its 6,500 workforce at its distressed Obuasi mine in a bid to restructure the business.

The largest chunk of job losses came as the mine was temporary shutdown to allow for maintenance; close to 5,000 workers were reported to have lost their jobs in a US$220 million retrenchment programme.

Newmont Ghana during the peak of the commodity’s fall also terminated the employment of an additional 500 to 600 miners, after laying-off 300 last year.

According to the Chamber of Mines, the cash cost of gold production went up 25% from US$768 per ounce in the first half of 2012 to US$962 per ounce in the same period in 2013.

Gold, which accounts for more than 90 percent of mineral production in the country and more than 40 percent of export income, has seen its worst downturn in a decade.

The drop, with gold losing 28 percent of its value in 2013, negatively affected government revenue and the economy, apart from the direct consequences on the viability of mining operations.

Since November 2012, the price of the yellow metal on the world market has been on the slide which has affected the revenues firms gained from mining the commodity.

In a report published by the Ghana Chamber of Mines, for the second successive year, the aggregate mineral revenue of the members of the Chamber declined -- it dropped from US$ 4.75bn in 2013 to US$ 3.94bn in 2014, representing a fall of 17 percent.

The Chamber attributed the contraction in revenue largely to the softening of the gold price as well as the decline in shipments of manganese.

Coupled with the reduction in the average realized price of gold from US$ 1,444 per ounce in 2013 to US$ 1,213 per ounce in 2014, the 17 percent drop in gold revenue was also triggered by a percentage dip in output. Gold output of the members of the Chamber declined from 3,192,648 ounces to 3,167,755 ounces.

Primarily, this was on account of plunge in output from AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem, Gold Fields Tarkwa, Golden Star Wassa, Newmont Ahafo, Adamus Resources and Perseus Mining.

Whilst increases in output were recorded at AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi, Gold Fields Damang, Golden Star Bogoso Prestea as well as a full year production at Newmont Akyem, these were unable to offset the recession in output of the fore- cited companies.

The Ghana Mineworkers Union’s data revealed that between January 2013 and March 2014 it lost 3,080 members, or 16.1 percent of its membership, through retrenchment blamed on the slump in the gold price. The industry’s decision to job-cuts to streamline costs, further affected the union’s membership strength.

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