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Opinions of Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Columnist: Mensah-Pah, Jerry

Stop Newmont's illegality

The exposé by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy, Honourable Dr. Kwabena Donkor that one of Ghana's most significant multinational mining companies, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited is operating its controversial Akyem Mine without completing the necessary parliamentary ratification as required by the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) Section 5 sub sections 4 should come as a source of worry to all Ghanaians.

The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a research and advocacy organization working on the extractives, finds it very difficult to understand how a giant multinational company like Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd can be operating its Akyem mine without completing the permitting procedures as required by law, as alluded to by the Honourable Member of Parliament for Pru, Dr. Kwabena Donkor. Indeed, this development raises a number of critical issues that demand a response from the regulatory bodies, and Parliament itself as the body with oversight over the Executive arm of government.

How could this blatant disregard for the supreme laws of the country have occurred on the blind side of the Ghana Minerals Commission, a regulator with the sole mandate to monitor operations of mining companies in the country to ensure these operations are carried out in accordance with law? How could the company's illegal status escape the people's representatives? It is obvious there are more questions than answers.

It will be recalled that CeSIS in a statement issued two months ago called attention to the bad agreement signed between the Government of Ghana and Newmont Ghana Gold Limited. In the statement titled "PRESS STATEMENT ON COMMENTS BY MEMBERS OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT ON FISCAL REGIME OF MINING INDUSTRY" we called on Parliament to scrutinize the agreement between the Government and the multinational mining giant. Unfortunately our call has not been heeded to, like most others we have made in the past. The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, instead of enforcing the law by ensuring that mining companies operating in the country comply with the law was busily coordinating the "flushing out" of illegal small scale miners. Subsequently in their haste to chase out these illegal miners, they have overlooked the large scale illegal miner - Newmont Ghana Gold Limited which had been operating its Akyem Mine for three years without a permit! We find this development very unfortunate and it is an affront to contemporary efforts aimed at leveraging a sustainable mining sector.

CeSIS calls on government to take urgent steps to correct this anomaly. We further wish to call for an audit of all mining companies - both small scale and large scale - to ensure that their operations are strictly conform to existing state regulations and legislations. We will finally wish to appeal to Parliament as the oversight body to regularly monitor the operations of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources so that at all times the interest of the nation will be protected. Never again should this impunity by a foreign multinational be allowed in the country.



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