MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Community deaths at Newmont and Chinese gold mines in Ghana

Published by MAC on 2015-05-01
Source: Ghana News Agency, statement

Mining communities in Ghana have been protesting after people died at two of the country's mines.

At Newmont's Ahafo Gold mine a number of residents have drowned in the tailings dam.

At least three people have died inhaling toxic fumes at the Shaanxi Mining Company.

Chaos at Newmont Ahafo Mine

Ghana News Agency (GNA) via Ghanaweb

29 April 2015

Aggrieved residents at Damso and its environs, mining communities within the Ahafo catchment area of the Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, have threatened the lives of the expatriate workers, if the multi-national mining company failed to re-locate them.

The more than 500 residents at Botokrom, Agyamankrom, Hohorase, Asumikrom, Amadukrom and Krobeakrom, had therefore, given the mine a two-week ultimatum to do the re-settlement or face their anger.

According to the residents, a tailing dam constructed in the area by the mining company had poisoned the water system in the area, which had led to the outbreak of skin rashes and other water-borne diseases.

They told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a visit to the communities on Monday that in the past five years, four young men had drowned, when they attempted to cross the dam.

The GNA sighted the aggrieved residents wielding machetes and other offensive instruments chanting wars songs in their local parlance to register their displeasure against the mining company.

According to them, management of the Ahafo mine met with the opinion leaders of the communities about seven years ago and agreed to resettle and compensate them before constructing the dam, but for some years now it had failed to do so.

Opanin Stephen Appiah, the spokesman for the residents, mainly farmers, explained that communities had officially written their grievances to the Asutifi North Municipal Assembly and copied the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but to no avail.

He said neither the mining company nor the District Assembly had shown concern about their plight and the “only thing we can do to make our voice heard is to vent our anger on the expatriate workers so that the mine will know that we are serious”.

Mr Abdul Malik, a 34-year-old farmer in the area, observed that because the few boreholes in the area were sited close to the dam, the water was always polluted.

He said before the construction of the dam, school children had to walk few kilometres to attend school at Kenyasi, but now they had to travel 12 miles.

Mr Malik said the mine had provided the about 25 settlements in the area a Benz bus, but because the school children in the area were plenty, it had to overload and send them to school at Kenyasi.


Personal communication on this statement

14 April 2015

A 23 year old boy; Issaka Ibrahim has since yesterday drowned in Newmont Ahafo water storage facility (Water Dam) and has not be found to date.

Issaka is a resident of Kofi Small Village near Damso in the Ahafo mine project of Newmont in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana.

According to LEG facilitator in the area; Barakhisu Aziz, Issaka went on hunting with his brother in the course of chasing a Grasscutter he fell into the said dam. The dam is not fence and it's located in between Damso and Dokyikrom communities.

Several warnings have sent to Newmont by LEG and other concern groups in the area about the dangers the unfenced dam post sincere the death of the late Yaw Frimpong and Kofi Agyekum but the company always turns a deaf ear until the third incident happened yesterday. The community tried their best yesterday but they couldn't save him.

The matter was then reported to Kenyasi Police but they couldn't come because it happened late evening. The communities are waiting for the police to come this morning. This dam has since 2006 taken the lives of 3 able men, hundreds of domestic animals and many wild animals.

I will share with you the out come after the police intervention.

Thank you.

Richard Adjei-Poku
Executive Director
Livelihood & Environment Ghana (LEG)
P.O.Box 1814, Sunyani or P.O.Box 88, Ahafo Kenyasi

3 dead in Ghana gold mine accident

24 April 2015

Accra - Three people have died and 14 others required medical treatment after inhaling toxic fumes at a gold mine in Ghana, the company running the operation said on Friday.

"We can confirm that three people have died out of the inhalation of toxic fumes from our underground operations," said a spokesperson for the Shaanxi Mining Company, Maxwell Wooma.

The firm, a subsidiary of the China Gold Resources Company, said the three were among 17 people who had to be rescued and taken to hospital in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region.

"Unfortunately upon arrival [at hospital] we lost two people yesterday [Thursday] and early this morning [Friday] one passed on," Wooma added.

An investigation has been launched but the company said those affected were two groups of underground "cleaners" tasked with cleaning rock particles after blasting in the mine.

"This is the first time we have suffered this," said Wooma.

"We adhere strictly to the mining regulations and safety standards for the five to six years that we have been operating and developing this mine."

Ghana is Africa's second largest gold producer and exports of the yellow metal, along with other minerals and oil, helped boost the country's economic growth in recent years until a recent slide.

The industry involves a number of major players in the sector but small-scale, illegal gold mining has been a persistent problem and accidents frequent.

In 2010, at least 45 people were killed when an illegal gold mine collapsed after heavy rains while in November 2009, at least 18 people, including 14 women, were killed.

In 2013, Ghana's government said it expelled 4 700 illegal miners, most of them Chinese, attracted to the country by prospecting.

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