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Business News of Wednesday, 21 July 2004

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Bonte Gold Mine Liquidated Without Due Process

The Bonte Gold Mines Limited in the Ashanti Region, which was liquidated last March, left a debt of about $18 million owed to various state institutions and private companies, as well as unpaid workers wages and compensation to farmers affected by its operations, The Chronicle has learnt.

The Third World Network, an NGO, has said the liquidation did not follow due processes for mine decommissioning, the company having taken only about one week to complete the task.

Information gathered from sources close to the official liquidator of the assets of the company confirmed that a High Court order was given on March 25 this year for the liquidation, which was subsequently executed on March 30.

The workers have accused the company of keeping them in the dark about the liquidation and owing them unpaid wages.

Farmers, whose lands were affected by the operations of the mine, also received no compensation.

Worst of all, the company closed down without reclaiming the land destroyed by its operations.

Mr. Abdulai Darimani, Environmental Programme Officer, told the press in Accra yesterday that while the workers and farmers lamented over their future livelihood, the management of the company had long left for Canada.

He said the company did not wait to effect the court's decision, adding: "It is a typical case of how the nation is being raped of its natural resources only to be abandoned after they are completely exhausted."

Mr. Darimani criticized the Ghana Chamber of Mines, which he said trumpets the virtues of the mining industry and argues for voluntary regulation, for keeping quiet about the plight of the workers and farmers as well as the destruction of the environment. According to him, since the liquidation, no official of the Chamber had visited the site to learn about the plight of the workers and farmers and the state of the environment.

Mr. Abdulai said the least that could be done to help solve the problems of the people was for the government to compensate the affected farmers.

The Chamber of Mines should also evolve a mechanism for regulating its members to prevent a similar situation like that of Bonte from occurring.

Again, he suggested, that the relevant state regulatory institutions, namely the Minerals Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Mines Department should be adequately resourced to function effectively.

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