General News of Tuesday, 14 January 2014
The chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, Dr. Kwabena Donkor is accusing Newmont Ghana of carrying out large scale illegal mining in its Akyem concession.
He is therefore rallying civil society groups for a legal onslaught against the mining firm.
He was emphatic in an interview with Joy FM's Top Story that the firm has no license to operate the mine and had not bothered to secure the legally required Parliamentary ratification before commencing operations.
Newmont says the Akyem and Ahafo concessions are the only two cites in Ghana that account for 20 per cent of the company’s core assets worldwide. But Dr. Donkor says after months of pursuing the matter with all other relevant agencies, he is ready to become what he calls the "star witness" in a legal case against the firm.
He challenged Ghanaians, especially civil society groups, not to leave law enforcement on state institutions but should go to court when necessary to get the right things done.
Dr. Kwabena Donkor, a Member of Parliament for Pru East Constituency promised; "I am prepared to be a star witness in court".
He also wants Parliament as an institution to take the issue of illegal mining, as he alleged is being done by Newmont, "far more seriously" in order to guard Ghana's natural resources with "concern and seriousness".
Though he admitted this is a regulatory failure on the part of the country's Minerals Commission, he would not put much "blame" on the Commission.
He believes with a concerted effort, Newmont would not "escape" its mining responsibilities.
The MP said he would resurrect the issue in Parliament when the house resumes.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Mohammed Amin Adam told Top Story the problem Dr. Donkor complains about could not have happened without some form of collusion.
He said it is incumbent on parliament and the executive represented by the sector minister to call to order companies that are flouting the laws of the country.
Amin Adam said if parliament is convinced that Newmont is operating without its activities being ratified by the house, it ought to haul the sector minister before parliament to answer why the company is operating without a license, and possibly prevail on him to stop the company from going ahead with the illegal mining.
When Joy News contacted Newmont, the company will not comment for now until the appropriate consultations are done, but said it has requested specifics about the latest claims made by Dr. Kwabena Donkor.
However, on Newmont's website, it said during the past five years, the Akyem project has been subjected to a thorough environmental impact study, public consultation process and an independent review process.