Ghana's EPA reneges on the communityPublished by MAC on 2005-11-02
Ghana's EPA reneges on the community
2nd November 2005
STATEMENT BY THE WASSA ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY MINING (WACAM) ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF MINING OPERATIONS BY BOGOSO GOLD LIMITED (BGL)
The news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had asked the Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) to start its mining operations in Prestea had come as a shock to WACAM and the communities affected by BGL's mining operations.
We are aware of an on-going discussions between EPA officials and the people of Prestea on the concerns of the communities regarding the operations of BGL. At the meeting held between the Prestea community people and officials of EPA on the 19th of October, 2005 the community re-affirmed their position for resettlement to give way for BGL to mine in Prestea and Himan towns. EPA officials promised to convey the community concerns to BGL and then give a feed back to the communities.
It has become apparent that EPA did not give any consideration to the concerns of the Prestea and Himan communities in revoking the suspension order it issued to BGL
The problems between the Prestea , Himan and BGL have resulted from the fact that EPA ignored the concerns the communities raised against the mining operations of BGL in Prestea at the very onset of the project. The conflict that had resulted has been very expensive to the company, the communities and the nation.
WACAM is disturbed that EPA is repeating the same mistake of ignoring the concerns of the communities and the company may have to use brute force to impose BGL on the people of Prestea and Himan. Even if this option becomes possible, it would be at a cost to the image of the mining industry, the company and the nation. It is important for mining companies to have social licence through free prior and informed consent of affected communities in addition to legal licence to operate.
We are worried about the conflicts in many mining communities that have resulted from insensitivity to community problems in the event of mining and the apparent tendency of our regulatory agencies to lean towards the mining companies.
WACAM is worried that we are placing corporate interest above sovereign interest and the rights of the marginalised.
We call on EPA to maintain the suspension of the mining operations of BGL and to continue the community consultations to reach a settlement that would provide the needed social licence to the company.
We call on Parliamentarians and the regulatory agencies to recognise that they have a primary responsibility to protect national interest. The Prestea case presents useful lessons to our legislative body in the discussion of the Mining Bill.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF WACAM