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General News of Friday, 7 January 2011

Source: GNA

Dead fishes found floating in raw water dam at Newmont Ahafo Mine

Kenyase (B/A), Jan. 7, GNA - Residents of Dokyikrom-Tutuka in the Asutifi District of the Brong-Ahafo Region on Thursday saw a number of dead fishes floating in the raw water dam at the Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) Ahafo Project site.

While the residents claimed that NGGL had spilled cyanide into the raw water dam at Dokyikrom, Tutuka near Kenyase, the Company has countered: "Newmont position is that some fishermen in the area applied chemicals wh= en fishing in the river and probably caused the death of the fishes but the Company is investigating."

Mr Adusah Yakubu, Local Coordinator of WACAM, an environmental protection advocacy non-governmental organisation (NGO) operating in mining areas in the country, told the GNA that the incident occurred on Thursday. He said residents of the affected communities detected on Thursday tha= t a number of dead fish were floating on the raw water dam, adding that Tutuk= a is the largest settlement among a number of communities in the dam area. Mr Yakubu explained that they realised that a chemical and water-controlled dam built by Newmont had become full and, therefore, spilled over to cause the death of the fishes.

He described the situation as 93very serious" because residents dep= ended on the water for domestic purposes.

Mr Eric Addae, District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asutifi, told GNA in a telephone interview that some Assembly Members had informed him about the incident and they claimed the surface of the dam had become whitish. He said: 93Newmont's position is that some fishermen in the area ap= plied chemicals when fishing in the dam and probably caused the death of the fishes but the Company is investigating."

Mr Kwame Azumah Agbeko, Communications Manager of the Company, in a telephone conversation with GNA stated: 93There has not been any discharge from our operations and there is no spill whatsoever."

He, however, confirmed that some dead fishes were found on the surface of the raw water dam by the Company's Community Patrol Team on Thursday. The Communications Manager explained that the Team moved around the mine-take area to educate and inform residents about the operations of the Company, adding that they helped to maintain the integrity of the Company= 's boundaries. Mr Agbeko indicated that the Team drew the attention of the Company to the incident and the Company in turn informed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission. He stated that the EPA had gone to the scene for 93samples" for investigations and the situation was being monitored.

Mr Ransford Sekyi, Director Responsible for Mining at the EPA, told the GNA that the NGGL had reported an incident of dead fishes in the raw water dam, which is contiguous to the tailings dam at the Mine. He said the tailing dam has been constructed to acceptable engineerin= g specifications and explained that a number of factors could account for the dead fishes so the EPA has sent a team to investigate to establish the caus= e of the deaths. Mr Sekyi said until the team submitted its report it would be too hasty to draw any conclusion adding that NGGL was also investigating the incident.