Ghanaians demand justice from gold minersPublished by MAC on 2011-10-18
Source: Reuters, Ghana News Agency, Peace FM, statement (2011-10-10)
A Ghanaian business magazine has revealed that the state holds no stake in any of five major gold mining enterprises operating in the country.
Ghana's Mine Workers Union is calling for a windfall tax to be applied to excess profits made by the industry.
One of the world's biggest gold miners, Newmont, is accused of willfully destroying a farm at its Akyeam project, in Ghana's eastern region.
Ghana in talks with gold miners over new taxes
11 October 2011
ACCRA - Ghana is in talks with gold miners in the country, Africa's second-biggest producer, over additional taxes so as to benefit from the soaring price of the precious metal, the government said on Tuesday.
Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor told Reuters that the ministry was in talks with the miners with options that included the introduction of a windfall tax.
"We are looking at the entire stability agreement, which is basically about the tax regime covering the mines with various options and we hope we would be able to reach some agreement soon," Duffuor said, adding no clear position had emerged yet.
He said the options, which also included the restoration of some waivers, would be applied on a case by case basis.
"We want to carry along the mines with us throughout the negotiation because we see them as partners - at the end of the day it should be a win-win situation for us all," Duffuor added.
Any new taxes agreed will form part of the 2012 budget to be presented to parliament next month, Duffuor said. President John Atta Mills is expected to seek re-election in late-2012.
The Ghana Mine Workers Union have been calling for the imposition of a windfall tax in addition to raising the country's stake in the mines to enable the economy to benefit from the attractive gold prices.
Spot gold prices have more than quintupled in the last decade and are up around 17% this calendar year, having briefly hit a record high of $1 920.30/oz last month. At 09:28 GMT, it traded down 1% at $1 659.09/oz.
Firms operating in Ghana include subsidiaries of Newmont Gold, the world's second-largest miner; Africa's largest gold miner, AngloGold Ashanti and South Africa-based Goldfields.
Ghana Has 0% Share In Gold Operations
14 September 2011
City & Business Guide has gathered that Ghana currently holds zero percent share in five mining companies operating in the country.
Ghana is currently losing a lot of revenue as the multinational mining companies are exploiting the country's mineral wealth. The mining companies include Newmont Ahafo and Akyem Mines, AngloGold Ashanti mining projects at Obuasi, Iduapriem and Teberebie and Noble Mineral Resources project at Bibiani.
The Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, in a letter sent to the Attorney General, which was chanced upon by this paper, expressed grave concern about the development and sought the AG's legal advice to help rectify the current situation.
In letter dated January 20, 2011 entitled: "Varying The Republic's 10 percent Free Carried Interest In Mining Leases," the Finance Minister said both the Minerals and Mining Law, 1986 (PNDCL 153) and the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) expressly state that the government shall acquire 10 percent free carried interest in the rights and obligations of mineral operations.
"Neither law gives government the option to vary this requirement to the detriment of the Republic, although both laws expressly also give government the option to increase the Republic's share by purchasing additional shares," the Finance Minister said.
"This letter is to request your legal opinion about the right of Parliament to ratify Agreements or Government actions that contradict laws of the country in effect at the time of the Agreement, action or ratification: Particularly, Parliament's right to approve the reduction or removal of the Republic's right to a 10% free carried interest in mining operations in Ghana, either through Agreement or sale of the right once acquired."
According to Dr Duffuor, the lost of holding in AngloGold Ashanti is due to the fact that the state sold its Ashanti Goldfields shares when AngloGold merged with Ashanti Goldfields in or about 2003.
On Newmont, the Finance Minister said Ghana's zero percent holding in the mining giant is due to an agreement signed and ratified with Newmont in 2003.
He further stated that Ghana's zero percent holding in the Bibiani Gold Mine owned by Noble Mineral Resources is due to the fact that the gold field was originally owned by Ashanti Goldfields and divested subsequently to AngloGold Ashanti and then to subsequent owners and finally to Noble Mineral Resources in December 2009.
The Finance Minister said "Although Article 268 of the Constitution grants Parliament the authority to ratify agreements relating to natural resources, nowhere in the Constitution is Parliament given the added power to ratify agreements that contradict the laws of the country.
"In fact, under the Directive Principles of State enshrined in the Constitution it is evident that Parliament at all times must act subject to the laws of the country. In fact, under Economic Objectives, Article 36 (4) places an onus on the State to ensure that Foreign investments shall be encouraged within Ghana, subject to any law for the time being in force regulating investments in Ghana."
While mining has been a blessing to many countries across the world including South Africa and Botswana, the case is wholly different in Ghana as the state has no holding in the operations of the mining companies.
The Ghana Mineworkers' Union of TUC has also expressed similar concerns.
At the just ended 10th Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the GMU held in Sunyani, the General Secretary of the union, Prince Williams Ankrah raised the union's concern about the current ownership structure of the government.
He said the union will campaign along with other civil society groups to dilute the foreign capital component of the stake in the existing ownership apportionment and cited the case of Debeers and the Botswana government in which the agreement is 50/50.
According to him, the Ghanaian situation is different and is nothing to write home about since mining communities had recorded little infrastructure and commercial impact.
"The poor state of infrastructure in the Prestea Bogoso, Bibiani and Akwatia are memories that our generation can hardly forget. In spite of all the glaring inadequacies that have caught up with us for hundred years of mining businesses in Ghana, we are still muddling through. The situation needs rethinking. Civil society groups, trade unions and the youth of this country must forge an alliance to debate these negative trends and compel the managers of our economy to shift from our comfort zones and begin to reassess their leadership in dealing with the complexities associated with Ghana Plc."
"The situation is more compelling today than ever and we cannot continue to tolerate excuses. Resources generated from our gold rush cannot showcase any symbolic initiated projects taken over the years. The youth are not getting their fair share of the cake through sustainable job opportunities beyond mining," he stressed.
Source: Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Sunyani
Journalists asked to investigate thoroughly what mining companies say
Ghana News Agency (GNA)
27 September 2011
Sunyani (B/A) - Journalists have been urged not to take what mining companies say on the face value, but rather go further to mining communities to investigate to know the truth.
Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of Wassa Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), a non-governmental organization, said a further check to know the facts would help to avoid publishing and airing falsehoods.
Speaking at a workshop organised for more than 50 media practitioners in Sunyani at the weekend, he said, the media should critically examine activities of mining companies before disseminating information about them to the public.
The event, sponsored by DKA Austria, a Catholic charity organisation, was jointly planned by the Ghana Journalists Network on Mining, Oil and Gas (GJNMOG) and WACAM.
The GJNMOG is a network of journalists seeking transparency and accountability in the mining industry as well as becoming the voice for communities directly affected by mining, oil and gas operations.
Mr. Owusu-Koranteng expressed regret that majority of stakeholders in the mining industry in the country had failed to help to alleviate the plight of communities affected by mining operations.
He said the media served as the voice for such communities "as the only channel they can rely on and pass their grievances through for redress".
Mr. Owusu-Koranteng noted that mining companies in the country continued to create a lot of discomfort and pain to people in mining communities.
"If we allow communities to continue to suffer from the various atrocities from mining companies, one day these communities would stand up and fight for their basic rights", he cautioned.
Nana Boaman Bofotia, Krontihene of Sunyani Traditional Council, said that some mining companies had failed to pay royalties to traditional authorities.
He said since chiefs were the embodiment of the people and the custodian of lands, they were the right people to be contacted before any mining company could start operations.
Nana Bofotia advised the media to be circumspect in their reportage to avoid jeopardizing public peace.
He expressed concern about the use of provocative statements in the political landscape.
Nana Bofotia appealed to political parties to eschew activities that could result in confusion in the next General Election.
He advised the youth not to allow politicians to use them to foment trouble but they should rather channel their exuberance into productive ventures.
Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Deputy Executive Director of WACAM, took the participants through the Mineral and the Mining Act 2006 (ACT 703).
She noted that the Act provided generous incentives to mining investors and denies government the opportunity to accrue revenues from the mining sector to meet the development needs of the people.
Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng called on the media to work hard and help to expose the rots in the mining industry as well as alleviate the plight of people in the mining communities.
Mr. Raphael Godlove Ahenu, National President of GJNMOG, called on journalists to regularly visit mining communities to help find solutions to the problems of the people.
He said the contributions of the media in promoting socio-economic development could not be overemphasized.
Newmont takes law in its hands
Statement from Livelihood & Environment Ghana (LEG) over Newmont Ghana
20 September 2001
The management of Newmont Ghana gold Akyeam project have today taken the law into their own hands again by giving an order for the destruction of a farm at Yayaaso in the Birim North district in the eastern region of Ghana.
According to the owner of the farm, Mr. Kwabena Frimpong, he was at a workshop at Koforidua in the eastern rigion when he got a telephone call that dozers were in his farm clearing off everything on the land. Mr Frimpong said the farm has not been demarcated.
My simple question is that can any blackman company do this in Europe, America or in any of the developed countries? Does Newmont respect our laws at all?
Section72(5) of the mining and minerals Act, Act 703 of 2006 says that, the owner of a mining lease shall, in the presence of the owner or lawful occupier or accredited representative of the owner or lawful occupier of land, the subject of a mining lease and in the presence of an officer of the Government agency responsible for land valuation carry out a survey of the crops and produce a crop identification map for compensation in the event that mining activites are extended to the areas.
Section 73(3) of the same law also states that, the amount of compensation payable shall be determined by agreement between the parties but if the parties are unable to reach an agreement as to the amount of compensation, the matter shall be refered by either party to the minister who shall, in consultation with the Government agency responsible for land valuation and subject to this Act, determine the compensation payable by the holder of mineral right.
Again, Article 20(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution states that, in the case of compulsory acquisition of property, prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation shall be made.
There has not been any survey, amount for compensation has not been determined and compensation has not been paid but the farm has been destroyed. How is this issue going to be solved? How much money is the company going to pay to the owner? Is Newmont realy a responsible mining as they use to sayand how do they consider the communities in which they operate?
Richard Adjei- Poku
Livelihood & Environment Ghana(LEG)