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Ghana to Mine in Forest Reserves

Ghana has given out a mining lease for mining activities to start in the Agyanuabopo Forest Reserve in the Birim North area, despite a query from the United Nations and petitions from over 6000 people from 50 countries all over the world.
The forest reserve which is home to rare and endangered species of animals is purported to contain 8.2 million ounces of gold.
Announcing this to the Advocate in Tamale, Mr Daniel Owusu Koranteng, Executive Director of Wacam, said “Many of our forest reserves are sitting on minerals and the mining companies have targeted them for exploitation. Meanwhile, when they mine it, they will take the gold away and dump their waste rock on the farms of communities. We have given them the off reserves to mine and now we are giving them the forest reserves”.
Mr Koranteng cautioned government to take a second look at the issue, saying, we need to be careful as a nation. We need to put a moratorium on the granting of more mining concessions and do a cost/ benefit analysis and also review the positive and negative impacts of previous concessions that we have given out. We must stop this issue of giving out all the time without counting the costs and consequences.
He also decried the decision of Newmont Limited to mine the royal cemetery of the Akyem Kotoku Traditional area, saying, “it does not make sense to mine royal cemeteries. Leave chiefs to sleep in peace.”
He said “It has been written in the Environmental Impact Study of Newmont, that they are going to exhume the bodies of chiefs of the Akyem Kotoku Traditional Area, perform rituals and send the bodies to another cemetery. This is unthinkable. Would somebody ever think of going to mine Buckingham Palace if that is what would bail the UK out of their economic problems?
Mr. Koranteng, who referred to issues such as mining cemeteries and the destruction of shrines which bear a lot of spiritual significance to their communities as intangibles, said they are the most serious of all issues since one cannot put a monetary value on them yet their impact is great and are always ignored by mining companies.
“The things that touch on the very existence and the mind and the soul of people, Things that make people feel that they are human beings and have an identity as human beings; these are the things that mining companies destroy and there is no value put on it.”
He said considering the fact Ghana has minerals from the south to the north and with the exception of some few areas along the Volta Basin, the rest of Ghana is covered with gold, its adhoc exploitation without recourse to its consequences would spell peril for the nation.
Added to this is the use of violence by mining companies to intimidate mining communities. “One day we cannot contain the social explosion. The mining companies are teaching the communities violence. The more they use violence against the people, the more they are teaching them violence as a tool and one day they would use it against them.”
“The issue is we have given out every good thing to get very little from mining and we have been trapped in a situation where we think that if we do not allow them to destroy more things, and we cut off from the little money that they are giving us, the country would run into more problems”, Mr Koranteng said.
He said this outlook is coupled with the fact that the mining companies are prepared to pay their way to have their way; “Hence, you cannot rule out the use of bribery as a result of which the country’s leaders are torn between protecting the sovereign rights of Ghanaians and protecting the corporate interest of mining companies. We have our leaders hanging between the companies and our people. Otherwise, why are they allowing them to do all the things they are doing to this country when the facts show that we get very little.”
He called for action in this regard, saying, “there is the need for advocacy in this direction to ensure that we pull our leaders from this trapping of protecting the corporate interest of mining companies otherwise the interest of Ghanaians and mining communities would continue to be trampled upon.”
Mr Koranteng said “our cultural integrity as a people and our political and economic freedom is under threat. What makes us a sovereign nation is when we have full control over decisions and the benefits from our national resources. If you live in a country where somebody comes to take 95 percent of your resources away, and leaves you with 100 percent of the problems, how independent are you? The neo-colonialism that Nkrumah talked about, this is it.”

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