Gold Fields said Tuesday the presence of illegal miners on a remote lease area of its Damang mine in Ghana has not affected the company's current production here.  

Gold Fields spokesperson Andrew Davidson said the company was only considering mining on this lease area of Damang, known as Rex, and has not suspended any plans to mine here. 

He stressed the longstanding presence of illegal miners on the Gold Fields property run by its subsidiary, Abosso Goldfields Limited (AGL), was not having a material impact on current operations or production.  

Davidson said the area that was occupied by a couple of thousand illegal miners has been earmarked for possible mining at some point in future. We are investigating the potential in this remote area, but it is still at an early stage, he said.

Gold Fields has been in talks with the illegal miners, government and local community about relocating the group from the lease area for some time.  

Davidson said the company has dealt with the presence of artisanal or illegal miners in the past and it was not a new phenomenon. We have always succeeded in resolving these issues in a positive manner in the past, he said. A decision on the mining of the area will be taken later on, irrespective of the presence of the illegal miners or not.

Reuters reported yesterday that Gold Fields had suspended plans to resume underground mining at Damang due to the presence of 3000 organised illegal miners armed with improved technology.

The agency's report said Abosso Gold Fields was planning to open an abandoned shaft holding at least 1.1m ounces of gold by the end of this year.