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Deception and falsehood in the mining war

polluted waterIs there any solution to the vexed mining issue? The answer, I gather from a field investigation, is a big yes; but only when stakeholders acknowledge the need to be truthful with facts on the ground without resorting to the distortion of facts to suit
personal interests.

The stakeholders in this instance are the chiefs and opinion leaders of the mining communities, galamsey operators and their backers, some of who are sitting MPs, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), assembly members, the government and, of course, foreign mining companies.

Except the mining companies, which are always at the receiving end, each of these parties has in one form or another been part of the cabal that often feeds Ghanaians with falsehoods because of their gains from the spread of such lies.

At the time of writing this article, one top NGO (name withheld), was on its way to Prestea-Bogoso mine, owned and operated by the Golden Star Resources Limited Mines to engage residents of the area in a lop-sided misinformation exercise to discredit the mining company. The unkindest cut of all is that no representative of the Bogoso-Prestea Golden Resource would be part of the exercise or the meeting.

The idea behind the exercise, which is expected to be blown out of proportion, is to discredit, name and shame the Golden Star Resources Limited Mining Company in their annual report.That report is expected to be released late this month.

That has been the modus operandi of these mining NGOs over the years and this is often done to meet the standard set by their overseas pay-masters.

Otherwise, as Mr Nyandu Agyabu, an environmental expert put it “I don’t see why such NGOs would be concentrating only on the legal mining entities and leave out the galamsey operators who have virtually destroyed the country’s eco-system to the extent that we don’t really know how our children and the off-spring can inherent our lands in future”.

Environmental degradation

But is the problem of degradation of the environment really the making of the foreign mining companies? My fact finding established the following in relation to particularly the operations including the reclamation of land sites by the Golden Star Bogoso-Prestea Limited (GSBPL).

I found from the Audit and Filed Annual Report and Financial Statement for the year ending December 31, 2012 Golden Star Oil Palm Plantations which was audited by PriceWaterCoopers that a total Mining Lease for Mining Operations (LOM) on both the Prestea and Bogoso concessions stood at274,000ha as of December 31, 2012. Approximately,1,629.72 hectares of it had been disturbed out of which about 707.94ha (43 per cent) have been fully rehabilitated.

Land surface disturbed during the year under review was 13.o2ha, this was mainly due to the pit development at Pampe, Chujah and Bogoso North.

At the same period, about 96.34ha of land area was fully rehabilitated in excess of about 740 per cent the area of land demarcated for mining during the year within the concession. Marlu and Chujah South pits were completely backfilled during the year, bringing the total number of backfilled pits to 21 since mining started on the Bogoso/Prestea Concession.

Beppo 3 site was capped with compacted oxide (2.0m), followed by the placement of growth medium to create conducive condition for the arable crops. The site was capped with 104,000m3 of compacted oxide waste., 52,000m3 of oxide and growth medium was placed on the backfilled pit along with 24,000m3 of top soil.

Initial trials of food crops such as plantain, cocoyam and maize were successful. In the course of the year, 600 cocoa seedlings, 990 Madras thorn plants as a barrier and 240 xylopiaaethiopica were planted to complete the rehabilitation of the site.Three hundred and fifty suckers of plantain,1,750 setts of cocoyam and hg of maize were initially planted.The area is currently under care and maintenance.

The total cost of rehabilitation for 2012 was $3,227,252.95 and year to date for 2013 is $3,092,105. This covers Pampe Waste Dump ($1,941,420), Bogoso North Waste Dump ($9,462) and Chujah East Waste Dump ($915,245) and Rehab Office ($18,729).

And so with such huge reclamation of the mined lands and the provision of other infrastructural developments; why are the mining communities such as the Golden Star Resource Beposo-Prestea and the likes still the targets of many marauding youth of these areas.

Some chiefs connive

I also discovered that most chiefs connive with other opinion leaders of the mining communities to pocket money given by the mining companies to mitigate the so-called degradation of such communities. Unaware of the contributions by the mining companies, many ignorant youth resort to either agitation or direct confrontation with the mining companies as a way of. exacting from the mining companies what they consider as their pound of flesh.

The arrangement put in place by the government is also so loose that I wonder if the government really has the wherewithal to deal with the mining menace. The government seemed only interested in collecting huge taxes from the mining companies without taking into consideration the kind of indignation the foreign mining companies go through at the hands of the indigenes of the mining communities.

By the mining laws, the mining companies are not compelled in any form to pay compensation to the communities. Every form of compensation is included in the huge taxes that the governments from the mining companies.

However, with the awareness that many indigenes are likely to pick issues with the mining companies, the government has a very loose arrangement that suggests that mining companies live “peacefully” with the owners of the mine deposits.

Mr Agyabu suggested that instead of the government asking the mining companies to pay huge taxes, the best under the circumstance is to waive the tax and give the mining companies realistic development targets to meet in any given year.

“Maybe, the government should have zoned the country and asked mining companies to offer first class roads, hospitals, good drinking water and other forms of developments to the areas zoned; failure of which the mining company will lose its concessionary rights”, Le expert noted.

“But will the government pay heed to this laudable idea? Apparently, the expert’s worry is stemmed from the fact that the government ;itelf is a beneficiary of the many of the wrongs being perpetuated against the recognised mining companies through the creation of the local or indigenous Sankofa mining company.

For instance, it is the kind of financial muscle being offered by Sankofa Mines, a local mining company created by the Ghanaian government that has been sustaining
operations of galamsey operators in many mining communities in the country. Sankofa mines buys mining wastes produced,especially by galamsey operators and “sieves” them with the hope of getting mineral deposits.

Apart from that, many influential individuals, including some Members of parliament (MPs), own galamsey concessions and employ these galamsey boys to mine for them. Sad to relate, such concessions are ;ally owned by foreign mining companies.
The galamsey boys have virtually mined the entire Prestea South concession owned by the Golden Star Bogoso-Prestea,while stakeholders, including the government, look on.

Source: Daily Graphic

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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