MAC: Mines and Communities

Ghana: Newmont hammered for Human Rights Abuses

Published by MAC on 2011-03-22
Source: Statement (2011-02-10)

The USA's biggest gold mining company, Newmont, has once again been accused of perpetrating a raft of human rights and other abuses at its Ahafo mine in Ghana.

Recent research, conducted by the Ghanaian NGO, Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG), has exposed "unsafe living and working conditions, corruption, lack of proper and adequate consultation and consent, noise and water pollution, assault".

The company is also charged with failing to comply with recommendations made by local institutions -  and those of the country's Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, CHRAJ.

For earlier story on Newmont in Ghana, see: Abuses common in Ghana gold mining - Report

 

Press Statement on Compilation and Documentation of Human Rights Abuses by Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd (NGGL)-Ahafo Mine Project

Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG)

10 February 2011

Accra - Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, more often than not when stories of foreign direct investment in Africa, especially in the extractive sector are told, they are mainly about the positive dividends the multinational companies make on their investments.

Usually, very little is heard about the local people in the communities where these multinationals operate. But the stark truth is that mineral endowed communities in Africa, which Ghana is no exception, are impoverished with majority of the people having to endure many abuses at the hands of the mining companies.

In most cases the plight of the inhabitants and how they are adversely affected by the operations of multinational mining companies hardly make the headlines. This is largely due to the influence of the multinationals.

The purpose of this press conference is to show to you a documentary on the continuous deteriorating human rights situation on the lives of communities in Ahafo- Kenyasi, Ntotroso, Atronie and others in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana perpetuated by the operations of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL).

The harrowing and deteriorating human rights abuses in the area include violence associated with Newmont's activities, unsafe living and working conditions. No, or inadequate, compensation, relocation packages instead of resettlement, corruption, lack of proper and adequate consultation and consent, noise and water pollution, non-compliance with recommendations by the local institutions, for example CHRAJ.

Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG), stresses the need for Newmont to respect the human rights, the liberties and the privacies of the communities within their catchment area.

LEG stresses the need for all stakeholders, particularly the sector Minister, CHRAJ and the media to exercise the utmost restraint and to work together in finding a lasting solution to some of these problems not only in Ahafo but other mining communities in Ghana.

LEG also wishes to stress the need for the sector Minister to conduct further investigation into these complaints and claims of the victims so that the necessary compensations due them would be paid.

In conclusion, we wish to say that it is only when the human rights of others are respected that true freedom and democracy are assured.

For further information, contact:
Richard Adjei-Poku (Executive Director)
Livelihood & Environment Ghana (LEG)
P.O.BOX 88, Ahafo Kenyasi B/A
Tel: +233 - 352096965
Cell: + 233 - 275537802/200383286/243388299


Report on Human Rights Abuses Perpetuated by Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd (NGGL)- Ahafo Mine Project

To: The Honourable Minister
Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
Accra

Dear Honourable Minister,

A recent research conducted by Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG) with the aim of compiling and documenting the human rights abuses in the catchment areas of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited's Ahafo Mine revealed very harrowing and deteriorating human rights situation in the lives of communities in the area.

Since Newmont started its operations in 2002 many of the indigenes in the Ahafo area have suffered one human rights abuse or the other. The violations include, unsafe living and working conditions, corruption, lack of proper and adequate consultation and consent, noise and water pollution, assault, non- compliance with the recommendations by the local institutions, for example, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, CHRAJ.

Some of the victims/ complaints

Rebecca Konadu, a 32-year-old cocoa farmer and resident of Atronie, one of the communities in Newmont's area of operation was knocked down by a Toyota pickup belonging to Newmont and ever since has not recovered from the terrible accident. No compensation has been paid to her and even most of the medical bills were not catered for.

Salamatu Ibrahim, a 40-year-old trader and a resident of Acherensua was also knocked down by Pega transport which is one of the ancillary companies of Newmont. Salamatu sustained serious injuries in two of her legs and up to date no compensations has been given to her.

George Boachie Danquah, a 42-year-old farmer is a resident of Kantinkakrom, the company's own surveyor declared him occupied yet the company decided to give him relocation instead of resettlement since that is cheaper.

Bawa Daniel, a 32-year-old farmer and a resident of Kantikrakrom. The company built only one room for him in place of his five-bed-room house which was demolished to give way to Newmont's operations.

Blasting has resulted in either cracks or the collapse of many buildings and the general mining facilities and operations have posed serious environmental problems to most of the communities.

Being a surface mining operation, the company took over stretches of land as well as inhabited communities as its concession. These meant not only loss of livelihoods to the local communities but also that of ancestral homes. The result is age-old heritage such as farms and homes were destroyed with either no or low compensation. The company has paid so many farmers with relocation packages even though they preferred to be resettled but since that was cheaper and easier it went for it. (This is contrary to the provisions of Act 703 of 2006 Section 73(4) and Article 20(3) of the 1992 Constitution.)

Individuals have been beaten up, detained without charge beyond the constitutionally mandated 48 hours without bail and others have lost their lives, for example Nana Akwasi Amakye the former chief of Ntotroso.

As if these human rights abuses were not enough, the construction of water and environmental control dams, ECDs, left unfenced have also led to the drowning of people who accidentally fall into them. People like the late Yaw Frimpong, Kwabena Adofoase, Kofi Agyekum and others fell victim to these. In some instances the company's ECDs have flooded and destroyed farms of the inhabitants.

The story is unending as each passing day brings up new issues that make the communities wonder whether it was their fault or that of their ancestors to have been blessed with gold deposits in their homeland. What they still do not understand is why they should also suffer another humiliation in the abuse of their individual rights in their own country from companies whose home governments make the whole world believe that fundamental human rights are inalienable and are a non-negotiable right.

Honourable Minister, we cannot exhaust everything in this memo but the fifteen minutes documentary attached will provide you a very good picture of the situation on the ground.

We want you to use your good office to conduct further investigation into the human rights situation in Newmont's operations in the Ahafo area.

We further count on you to ensure that Newmont pays due compensation to the victims. We also call on CHRAJ to conduct independent investigation into these complaints.

Sincerely,

Richard Adjei-Poku
(Executive Director, LEG)

Cc His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, Vice President, Republic of Ghana
The Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, CHRAJ

*LEG is a mining, environmental and human rights advocacy non- governmental organization based in Ahafo Kenyasi and operates mainly in communities affected by extractive activities in Ghana and Africa

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