Multinational mining firm Perseus Mining Ghana Limited (PMGL) has commissioned a US$30 million resettlement housing facility for the people of Ayanfuri in the Upper Denkyira West District of the Central Region.
In its quest to oblige with the mining regulation, which demands communities to be 500 metres radius away from mining sites, PMGL has relocated 1,147 people from three communities, namely, Festish, Ensugya North and Kyereawewa.
The 216.78 acres land resettlement facility, includes 187 houses, 12 institutional buildings, including two schools, three churches, 13-unit commercial facility, and a community centre, with a new palace for the chief, police post, fire point, and a community water and sanitation agency office on the drawing board.
At the commissioning and handing over ceremony of 201 housing units of the Ayanfuri Kurofurom resettlement, which was attended by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Dr. Toni Aubyn, and the Deputy Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, His Excellency Glen Askew, Mr. Jeff Quarteremaine, CEO of PMGL, explained that that the Edikan Estate began five years ago, when PMGL acquired the eastern side mining lease, where a moratorium was declared on February 14, 2012, and immovable asserts survey was done immediately afterwards.
According to him, in 2013, the Resettlement Compensation Negotiation Committee (RCNC) was inaugurated to negotiate on the resettlement package, which came to a successful end in November, 2014, to pave way for the resettlement implementation to commence.
CEO Quartermaine disclosed that the 201 housing and building contracts were awarded to five Ghanaians contractors, and that, not only has PMGL built houses, but has developed 6.8km of drains, extension of overhead power lines, street lights, and a robust small town water distribution system supplied by two mechanised boreholes.
He urged beneficiary households to be patient and take good care of the houses and other facilities being handed over to them.
“I call on government authorities to exert their authorities at the site to ensure that the right thing is done, and that standards are maintained, so that this estate remains a beautiful and comfortable place resides in, and a place we can all be proud of long after Perseus has left the district.”
The PMGL boss stressed that in order for the mining firm to succeed, they will need good physical assets such as the Esuajah, Fobinso, Festish, Keyerewewa and Abenabena ore bodies, and Edinka plant and others.
“We also need finance to construct and sustain our infrastructure; we need a team of good people that can operate efficiently and produce gold that can be sold; we need a market to sell our gold; we need a solid social license to operate. In other words, we must earn the right to live and work in our adopted country and community,” Jeff Quatermaine said, and gave the assurance that “We are committed to working with the traditional and assembly authorities to achieve the goal of sustainable development in our catchment areas, the districts and the nation at large.”
He mentioned that PMGL, having recognised the transformational impacts of such assistance, has, since commencement of operations, has been working with the catchment community to provide various forms of assistance, including the building and renovation of schools, provisions of boreholes, road maintenance, vocational training of students and provision of scholarships to students from the community to undertake various courses at the Kumasi Training Institute.
He disclosed that a trust fund had been established to serve as a medium through which the company provides financial resources for the sustainable development of communities.
The said fund, he said, provides support in areas such as poverty alleviation, advancement of human education, promotion of agriculture, health improvement, culture heritage and sports.
The company has contributed $3.9 million from 2011 to date into the Edikan Trust Fund to be used by communities to undertake projects they have selected, and that PMGL currently contributes $300,000 annually to the Trust Fund.
The Minster-designate for land and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu, hailed PMGL for handing over the new settlement to the three communities.
He revealed that Ghana has earned a substantial proportion of its foreign exchange from gold exports, adding that Ghana raked in US$2.4 billion from the export of gold alone in 2015, representing 13% of revenue accrued from mechanical exports.
According to him, the presence of PMGL in Ayanfuri had created 2,340 jobs, which include 899 from local communities.
The Minister-designate commended the mining firm for setting up the RCNC, which, according to him, is in consonance with section 73, clause 4 of the minerals and mining act, 2006(Act 703) ,which states that “inhabitants who prefer to be compensated by way of resettlement, as a result of being displaced by a proposed mineral operation, are settled on suitable alternate land ,with due regard to their economic well-being and social and cultural values, and the resettlement is carried out in accordance with the relevant town planning laws.”
Mr. Amewu urged mining firms in Ghana to emulate PMGL, and realise that it is in their best interest to invest in corporate social responsibility initiatives, and to maintain strong relationships with their host communities.
The Chief of Ayanfuri, Nana KwadwoAppiah III, expressed gratitude to PMGL for resettling his people to the new place, and urged the people to be patient and keep the authorities informed if they notice anomalies in their buildings, rather than jumping protocols and misbehaving. Nana Appiah III urged his people to take good care of the buildings.
One of the beneficiaries, Paul Eshun, on behalf of his colleagues, expressed gratitude to PMGL for resettling them, but appealed to the mining giant to tar their roads for them.
He further appealed for a bus to transport children to the new school, since some of them live far from the newly-built school.