Ghana NGOs demand Newmont be expelled from forest reservePublished by MAC on 2009-06-08
A Ghanaian NGO coalition has called upon their government to respect the sovereign rights of its communities, by cancelling a licence awarded the Newmont mining company in a forest reserve.
Revoke Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve Mining Permit - Coalition
1st June 2009
Accra - A Coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations have called on Government to revoke the permit given to Newmont Akyem Project to mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region.
It said if the Government revoked the permit it would send the right signals to all that "forest reserves are no go zones for mining" and show that Ghana was ready to implement the ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonisation of the Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, Mr Kwabena Bomfeh, Spokesperson for the Coalition, made up of Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL); Youth for Action Ghana (YAG); Centre for Labour Rights and Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), among others, said the permit given to Adamus Resources to mine in Teleku Bokazo, Aniwa and Nkroful, all in the Western Region, should also be revoked.
He said the revocation of the permit was the only sure way of stopping the conflicts that had been generated as a result of the intended mining operations and would also show that the Government was ready to respect the sovereign rights of communities to oppose mining in their areas.
The Coalition expressed its happiness about the Council of ECOWAS Foreign Ministers' conclusion of the adoption process of the ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonisation of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector in Abuja, Nigeria on 26 May 2009.
It commended the Government for taking active part in the adoption process and the putting in place of an Action Plan, which outlined step by step approach to the adoption of a common mining code for the Sub-Region by 2012.
Other members of the coalition include; Centre for Labour Rights (CLR); Foodfirst Information Action Network (FIAN) and Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC). GNA
Professor slams EPA over Ajenua Forest mining permit
1st June 2009
Accra - Professor Atta Britwum of the Department of French, University of Cape Coast, has accused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of irresponsibility following the granting of a permit to Newmont Akyem project to mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve in the Eastern region.
Consequently, Professor Britwum, also a member of the Wassa Association of Communities affected by Mining (WACAM), has appealed to government to call the EPA to order so as to ensure it acts more responsibly.
According to him, the EPA is engrossed in negligence of duty, failing to advice government to make informed decisions regarding the impact of activities in the extractive sector on the environment.
The professor of language slammed the EPA when he chaired a day's Workshop for Civil Society Organisations on ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector.
The event was organised by WACAM in Accra on Thursday.
On May 20, the state-owned Daily Graphic reported the Director of Mining at the EPA, Nana Andoh, as saying that the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve in the Birim North District is endowed with 8.5 million ounces of gold which needed to be extracted because the project area was a very small part of the forest that had already been logged.
However, Prof. Britwum believes this smacks of irresponsibility, since the EPA has a duty to rather protect the forest. He said, "If you take the gold, the forest will no longer be available."
Ms Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Director of Research, WACAM, catalogued countless abuses that mining communities have been subjected to while government and agencies like the EPA looked on almost helplessly.
She named human rights abuses such as detention and torture of 'galamsey' suspects and shooting of peaceful demonstrators.
Environmentally, violations include degradation of forest cover, pollution of the air, land, and water sources, cyanide spillage and acid mine drainage.
Mr. Steve Manteaw, Convenor of the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign, noted that mining companies were not the only culprits as "our own governments also plays a role."
He said Ghana put the cart before the horse when it passed a minerals and mining law without first formulating a mining policy. Thus, mining is being done recklessly.
At a press conference to round up the workshop, a group of six organisations called on government "to revoke the Environmental Permit granted Newmont Akyem project to mine Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve" and "the Environmental Permit provided to Adamus Resources to mine in Teleku Bokazo, Anwia and Nkroful as a way of avoiding the conflicts that had been generated ..."
Speaking for the organisations, Mr Kwabena Bomfeh, Executive Director, Youth for Action Ghana, urged government to ratify the ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector. He said the Directive "addresses important weaknesses in our mining regulatory framework such as defining 'No Go Zones' for mining, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) which empowers community people to say no to mining operations which have grave negative consequences on communities ..."