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General News of Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Source: GNA

Mining laws are weak - WACAM

Accra, Aug. 24, GNA - The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) on Thursday described the country's mining laws as too weak and unable to protect human lives, biodiversity and property. Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director, WACAM, noted that the mining laws had been crafted in a manner that put corporate interest above that of the people, who are sovereign citizens.

He was addressing a press conference in Accra in solidarity with the Prestea Concerned Citizens Association (PCCA), which had made public its frustrations about the activities of the Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) a subsidiary of Golden Star Resources of Canada.

"The laws make it possible for foreign investors in the area of mining to carry out their activities anywhere to the detriment of the indigenous people," he said.

He said if a strong regulatory framework were not in place, investors would repatriate all their profits and leave the nation with all the problems they would create. The mining companies also repatriated huge profits and asked what was left for the State. He said it was against this background that Prestea and other mining towns deserved better treatment from the mining companies. The Association's members at the press Conference carried placards some which read: "Children of Himan/Presstae and Dumase are dying, due to Bogoso Gold Limited Blasting"; "Prestea/Himan Is Being Mined Today, Accra Will Be Mined Tomorrow"; "Himan, Prestea And Dumase Are Part Of Ghana. Please Save Us" and "CHRAJ Come To Our Aid".

Mr Emmanuel Quarm, Secretary of the Association said members were aware that companies from countries of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had a responsibility to behave in the same way they would have done in their home countries, when they invested outside.

"The OECD guidelines for multinational enterprise enjoin companies like BGL to respect human rights, protect the environment and respect the rights of indigenous communities in countries they operate." However, he said, BGL, a Canadian Company, operated in an "irresponsible manner" they could not have done in Canada, Mr Quarm added.

Professor Attah Biritwum, a member of WACAM, who chaired the function, said gold was a non-renewable resource, once taken from the land. It was this same land that produced food and other resources for the survival of the people of the land.

He therefore called for caution to be exercised in the nation's quest for mining investments.

Mr Boakye-Dankwa Boadi, a supporter of WACAM, described the country's mining laws as "slave laws", saying this was because they favoured foreigners to the detriment of the Ghanaian. 24 Aug. 05

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