According to Greenpeace and Swiss left-wing group the Berne Declaration (BD), organizers of the 2011 “Public Eye Awards” edition, AngloGold Ashanti was given the award for the contamination of land and poisoning of people from gold mining in Ghana.
The award is given to companies with irresponsible corporate behaviour.
A Reuters report also says the mining firm had the award for “mistreating people in Ghana and polluting rivers”.
On the Public Eye Awards website, WACAM, a Ghanaian NGO which nominated AngloGold for the award, in its summary notes said “The South African mining company AngloGold Ashanti contaminates land and people with its gold mining in Ghana. To extract 30 kg (66 lb) of gold, 6,000 tons of rock are mined every day, then ground up and mixed with cyanide in tanks. The highly-toxic mining waste is kept in large storage ponds that contaminate rivers and wells, as well as all those who (must) drink from them”.
“No wonder AngloGold Ashanti received the worst possible rating for social and environmental protection from the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency in a recent industry comparison”, WACAM added.
The awards website also showed a clip on YouTube in which young men on crutches are seen along with trucks driving in open-pit mines.
But speaking to the Reuters news agency, AngloGold spokesman Alan Fine said he did not know what criteria were behind the organisation’s selection, adding the group never contacted AngloGold for comment.
“As far as we can ascertain, the vast bulk of what they refer to were events and things that happened a long time before AngloGold became active in Ghana in 2004,” he said.
The award ceremony was held on Friday January 28, 2011 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting of top business and political leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
On January 19, 2011 Ghana sold 1.28% of the country’s stake in AngloGold Ashanti for $43.97 a share and raised $215 million.
According to the Johannesburg-based unit of manager Macquarie Group Ltd, the sale of 4.88 million shares leaves Ghana with 1.72% in AngloGold that it agreed not to sell for 180 days.
The Ghana government was the majority shareholder in Ashanti Goldfields Company, until it announced plans to sell 20-25% of its interest in the mine. Subsequently, the company was listed on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges.
In 1996 the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange to raise new capital and it became the first African company to appear on Wall Street. In 2004, it merged with AngloGold to create the world’s second-largest gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti Company.
AngloGold Ashanti owns two mines in Ghana at Obuasi and Iduapriem.
By Ekow Quandzie