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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

The time to end the mining industry's impunity is now here

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What are the lessons that Ghana's environmental activists can learn from the blow dealt to Ibrahim Mahama's ambition to exploit Nyinahini's bauxite deposit - and how can they be used to end the brutal gang-rape of Mother Nature by the mining industry?

To begin with, one ought to point out that it is pretty difficult to argue against those who say that there seems to be an agenda to destroy Ibrahim Mahama's businesses.

According to some of those who hold that viewpoint, a powerful and greedy few - amongst the small number of extremists and hardliners in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who apparently envy Abrahim Mahama's success as a businessperson - are manipulating the system from the shadows in pursuance of a secret agenda of their own.

Be that as it may, in seeking to destroy Ibrahim Mahama, his enemies have given environmental activists and conservationists in Ghana a rare opportunity they must sieze to finally hold the mining sector's regulators to account - and demand that they operate in consonance with the regulations and laws outlined in the Mining Act.

The question is: When, in the national interest, are the authorities going to take the necessary steps needed to revoke all the illegally acquired rights of players in the mining sector - by applying the same critieria used to revoke the Exton Cubic Group's Nyinahini bauxite mining rights: in auditing all acquisitions of mining concessions and exploratory licenses issued thus far since the 1992 Constitution came into being?

The transcript of a conversation we once had with an insider-activist below - on condition of strict anonymity - ought to be food for thought for the powers that be:

"1) Has Newmont Gold Limited been granted mineral or mining concession in Donkro Nkwanta?

ANS: Newmont Gold Limited does not have any tenement in the Nkoranza South District.

The area around Donkro Nkwanta is for a company called "MYLOVE COMPANY LIMITED" and it is a RECONNAISANCE license

2) What is the size of the conssession? And what type of licence was Newmont granted: Reconnaissance, prospecting or mining licence?

ANS: It is a Reconnaissance license given to MYLOVE COMPANY LIMITED.

That license cuts across Nkoranza South, Offinso North and Ejura Sekyere Dumase Districts

3) If any of the above when was it granted?

Is the license still in force?

ANS: The license was granted in 2013

When will it expire?

ANS: The license expired in 2014

Is it subject to renewal?

ANS: Yes but there have not been any application for renewal Has Newmont obtained the necessary permits from the EPA in respect of Donkro Nkwanta?

If so what permit has been obtained?

ANS: This information can only be provided by the EPA."

Clearly, if the same criteria used to revoke the Exton Cubic Group's sundry Nyinahini licenses are applied to the whole industry not a single small-scale mining company in Ghana, for example, will escape having their concessionary rights taken away from them.

The time has now come for Ghanaian society to sieze the moment and end the impunity of the mining sector - in which fraudulently acquired rights resulting from corruption (payments of bribes?) have resulted in the poisoning of river systems, underground watertables and soils across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside, for decades now. Enough is enough. Haaba.

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