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Business News of Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Wacam moves to protect mining communities

Wacam, an environmental and human rights advocacy group, has held its 5th community group conference in Kumasi, with the resolve to consolidate the gains made over the years in the advancement of the right to education in mining communities.

The five-day conference on the theme: “Community-based advocacy: the key to the protection of citizens’ rights”, was attended by 200 delegates from mining communities throughout the country, students from the University of Ghana, Lego and the University of Energy and Natural Resources.

The Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, said “We cannot achieve sustainable national development when public policy exclude the poor and make them passive recipients of dole outs from political elites”.

She said problems facing the mining sector “have become so overwhelming that we do not seem to have the solution to the problems because of our desire to place financial benefits from mining above the protection of our social, economic and environmental rights of citizens”.

The Executive Director for the Center for Public Interest Law, Mr. Augustine Niber, urged community groups to protect the rights of the people through advocacy, training and education.

Below is the full resolution


The 5th Conference of Wacam’s Community Groups was attended by delegates and representatives from the ten (10) operational zones of Wacam across the country from 7th to 11th November 2016 at the Public Service Union Centre in Kumasi under the theme , “ Community-based mining advocacy : the key to the protection of community rights.”

Delegates and representatives from Tarkwa, Prestea/Dumasi, Nzema, Kenaysi, Donkro-Nkwanta, Obuasi, Mumuadu, Akyem Nkwarteng, Akyem Adausena and Sheini Zones participated in the conference.

The Conference discussed issues relating to the protection of the social, civil, political, economic and environmental rights of mining communities in relation to national policies. The conference discussed the policies of Wacam which form the basis for its advocacy work.
The conference adopted a resolution as follows:

Mining Law Reforms

The Conference noted that the current Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703, 2006 provides adequate protection for the multinational mining companies and not the surface rights of affected mining communities.

Conference is of the opinion that, the Minerals and Mining Act is too weak to provide effective regulation of the current mining boom.

Conference notes further that the Minerals and Mining Act, does not have important provisions such as the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) which would empower host communities to reject or accept a mining project based on the knowledge of the benefits and negative effects of mining on their livelihoods and pollution of the environment among others.

The conference expresses worry that despite the visible environmental challenges of mining, the Minerals and Mining Act does not contain provisions on the Polluter Pays’ Principle (PPP).

Conference expresses the readiness of Wacam to effectively share its mining advocacy experiences in the mining law reforms based on its Sample Mining Bill which was launched recently.

Conference calls on government to have a comprehensive reform of mining regulations in the country with the active participation of NGOs, Faith-Based organisations, Mining communities, the Trades Union Congress, Traditional authorities among others.

Moratorium on the granting of Mining leases

Conference expresses deep worry that the mining communities have been compelled to live with serious economic, social, cultural and environmental consequences of the current mining boom and the granting of more mining leases would exacerbate the destruction of the environment of the mining communities and worsen their living conditions.

Conference therefore calls on government to place a moratorium on the granting of mining leases until the country has undertaken a cost-benefit analysis of the mining sector to establish the benefits and costs of mining to our people, the society, the environment, livelihoods and rivers among others.

Mining in Forest Reserves

Conference expresses deep worry that government has granted mining leases to multinational mining companies to undertake open cast mining in forest reserves which are of biodiversity significance. For example government has granted mining lease for Newmont Akyem mine to undertake surface mining operations in Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve which according to Newmont’s research, contains about ten (10) species of plants that are new to science and a mining lease to AngloGold Ashanti to mine in Kubi Forest Reserve.

There are plans to permit surface mining in Tano Suraw Forest Reserve, Obonsam Bepo Forest Reserve in addition to the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, Fure and Tano Offin forest reserves which are part of Ghana’s thirty (30) Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas.

Conference calls on government to suspend all mining activities in our country’s forest reserves and ensure the withdrawal of the mining leases granted to mining companies to undertake mining in forest reserves.

Illegal Mining operations(Galamsey)

Conference expresses the opinion that the increase in illegal mining operations (Galamsey) had resulted from the unbridled permission of government to allow surface mining operations by multinational mining companies to destroy the livelihoods of indigenous host communities, mining in forest reserves, pollution of rivers and the environment with cyanide among others.

Conference is deeply worried that the country is overwhelmed by the problems of surface mining operations of both regulated mining companies and Illegal mining operators (Galamsey).

Conference is of the view that, it requires strong political will of government to address the problems of mining especially illegal mining operations.

Conference is deeply worried that government lacks the political will to address the increasing spate of illegal mining operations because people with strong political connections with governments are the ones supporting or carrying out the illegal mining operations.

Conference calls on government to develop a compressive plan with the active participation of affected communities to address the problems confronting mining communities that promote illegal mining operations.

Protection of Water Bodies from pollution

Conference expressed worry about the statement of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Ghana will experience severe water crisis by 2025 if nothing is done to reduce the increasing pollution of water bodies and forest degradation. The EPA anticipates that the country’s per capita water availability would be 1000 cubic metre (m3) per annum, making Ghana a water-stressed country.

Conference notes that the level of pollution of water bodies in the country indicates institutional and capacity weaknesses of agencies such as the Water Resources Commission in the discharge of their mandate.

Conference calls on government to provide adequate resources to state agencies that have the responsibility to protect water resources and build their capacities to protect our water resources.

Regulatory weaknesses

Conference expresses the view that political interference in the work of regulatory institutions, self-interest and inadequate resources have contributed to the weak functioning of state regulatory institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Commission.
Conference calls on government to adequately resource regulatory institutions and to support them to carry out their work independently.

National Forum on Mining

Conference notes that there is public discontent about mining because it provides minimal benefits whilst its operations are associated with serious environmental, social and economic problems and gross human rights abuses.
Conference notes further that Wacam had worked on the abuses of the rights of mining communities which were confirmed by the report of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) titled “State of Human Rights in mining communities” that catalogued the gross human rights abuses, environmental pollution and livelihood losses in mining communities in June 2008.

Conference notes that the CHRAJ report made important recommendations for the reform of the mining sector.

Conference holds the view that the report of CHRAJ and other independent works could convince the nation of the need to halt the increasing dependence on mining and to reflect on the way forward.

Conference calls on government to organise a national forum on mining to bring together policy makers, private sector, regulatory institutions, mining communities, NGOs, Faith-Based Organisations, Traditional rulers, Researchers, Trades Union Congress, District Assemblies and the security agencies to discuss the overwhelming problems of mining that have engulfed our country and to take major decisions on the mining sector.