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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 September 2018


Consider this trillion-dollar suggestion on the $2bn bauxite deal, Mr. President

Many have complained loudly about the monetary value this country stands to gain from Sinohydro in exchange for its Bauxite, an amount referred to as pittance by a portion of the Ghanaian society. I do not care about the amount, though I am tickled, for it is a recurring decimal that we always receive chicken feed for our precious minerals and mineraloids.

Anyone familiar with the technological processes and aftermath of mining will assert that its Environmental and social impacts (ESI) outweigh its monetary gains.

The Sinohydro-Ghana pact has attracted my attention not because I hold a degree in Mining Engineering, but partly because the life of a national heritage is at stake, and mainly because of the nature of the characters involved: Ghana and China. Ghana, a nation with deficiency in law enforcement; and China, a country reported to be a serial lawbreaker and a bottom feeder by an impressive number of African countries and the West

Mr. President, it is based on the above illustrations that I bring to you this missive for your consideration. It has not escaped my mind that you might have received advice on this subject matter, and I respect that. I am, also, aware that advice of this nature do, sometimes, come in broad strokes, or with boring jargons. Hence, you might want to consider this incisive piece, which spells out the importance of Environmental and Social Impacts Assessment (ESIA), and why you should enforce it to the core in this deal and subsequent ones.

Before I proceed to throw light on the ESIA, allow me to go off track in order to be on track, Mr. President. Mining has always harboured the good intention of improving infrastructure, increasing employment, and developing rural communities. But this intention only becomes a reality when there is transparency, honesty, and trust among the affected community, the State, and the mining company involved. Anything short of this will leave the host community or country with negative impacts. This is because some of the exotic mining companies are not honest, this means that they are, just, interested in what they stand to benefit with very little or no considerations towards the environment, local community or development of the host nation. Mr. President, you should, therefore, consider my reservations, and the concerns of the many who see things through my eyes.

ESIA addresses socio-political conflicts, health and safety issues, housing displacements and employment issues. The same, also, seeks to find solutions to water quality and accessibility, mine waste management, air quality, biodiversity loss, land disturbance, etc.

I will want to remind you to look out for the following from the ESIA reports, whether the mining is going to take place in the Atewa forest or Dagbandabefong; Nyinahin or Bolgatanga; Awaso or Bunkurugu; Obuasi or Ho, down South or up North; East or West:

If you do not see Mine Closure Plan in any of the documents, Mr. President, then, be assured that Sinohydro is going to leave our land naked after they are done shipping our Bauxite, as it (Mine Closure Plan) contains the miner's plan of how to repair the damage they will cause to the environment during the extraction of the ore deposit.

The management of mine tailings is the worst environmental challenge to the mining industry. Some time back, tailings were dumped into nearby rivers. This caused rivers to spill off its banks and flood communities. It has also caused rivers to dry up. Due to these and more, most countries have vowed to disavow this manner of waste management. But, since this method is cheaper and the miner involved in this current deal is always looking for means to maximize profit, it might resort to this unwelcome waste management method if not well checked. So, Mr. President, you might want to take note of that.

To add, tailings dam system is considered as a better alternative of waste management, however, when tailings dam is not properly constructed or managed, it can fail and let the waste and pollutants into nearby rivers, and/or also infiltrate into the earth and contaminate underground water. Why contaminate our water reserves when researchers speculate that, soon, water will become the most scare and expensive commodity?

I stay abreast of the duties of the environmental and mining regulatory bodies like the EPA and minerals commission, and the security services, so I know it is part of their duties to take care of these concerns raised. Just that the reputation of these bodies have come to disrepute since the reincarnation of the galamsey saga, somewhere last year. Hence, you might want to intervene so that mining giants who obey laws in their own countries will not cut corners and neglect the environment, the host community and the development of this nation. And in case you have already put in structures to contain the predicted situation, then, this missive will serve as a good reminder.

In sum, Mr. President, your work is not the sedentary type, I understand. So you barely have time to sit to read long letters. I will, therefore, end here by reminding you to check on the history of the company that is to mine our Bauxite: consider the past conduct of the company in other places where it has mined. If you cannot make much time to do a thorough check, Mr. President, then...a cursory check on it will do.

Viva Ghana!