Confusion In Gov’t Over Bauxite Concession
The Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister, has shoved aside his boss, John Peter Amewu, in the row over the Nyinahini bauxite deposits, saying that Exton Cubic Group Limited, is not permitted to undertake any mining prospection activity in the concession in the Ashanti Region, contrary to what Mr. Amewu, has said earlier on Joy FM.
Benito Owusu Bio, yesterday charged “they (Exton Cubic Group Limited) don’t have the operating license that will permit them to be there to undertake any activity. Activities which includes whether prospecting or whatever.”
Lands Minister, John Peter Amewu and Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah had clashed on live radio over the Exton Cubic Group an indigenous company cleared to mine bauxite at Nyinanhini in the Ashanti Region.
The row appears to have divided the Akufo-Addo government with Lands Minister, John Peter Amewu, Forestry Commission CEO, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie and the Chief of Nyinanhini in the Ashanti Region, Nana Amanpene Twum Boateng II in one corner for Ibrahim Mahama, while Simon Osei-Mensah, Benito Owusu Bio, Atwima Mponua District Chief Executive (DCE) Williams Darko in the other corner against Ibrahim Mahama.
Others against Ibrahim Mahama are; the Ashanti Regional NPP Chairman, Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, alias Chairman “Wontumi,” new Minerals Commission boss , Kwaku Addae Antwi-Boasiako and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Mr. Amewu, the Lands Minister, insisted that the company, had the required license to go into the concession, and asked that the Ashanti Regional Minister, release some earth moving equipment he had seized to its owners.
Records indeed, show that the Lands Ministry through the Forestry Commission, issued a license to Exton Cubic Group Limited to mine bauxite in the region on June 20, 2017.
Exton Cubic, in turn engaged Engineers and Planners (E&P), a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, to use its equipment to undertake a prospective service.
But the Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister, claimed in an interview on Class FM’s Executive Breakfast Show yesterday “What he (Mr. Amewu) said was that as far as he was concerned, they have a mining lease. He never said that they have fulfilled every obligation,” changing the whole narrative.
Also deepening the controversy is the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Kwaku Addae Antwi-Boasiako.
In a letter dated August 23, he said the mining lease given to the company, was dependent on certain conditionalities which have not been met.
Mr. Antwi-Boasiako, only last week replaced Dr. Tony Aubyn, and appears to be his first major assignment.
Hence, “they are directed to stop any attempt of entering the concession to undertake any mining operation”.
Exton Cubic Group Limited, has said that they have a permit to do prospecting – which they are currently doing – and not engaged in mining.
But Mr. Bio, said prospecting also requires an operation license which the company has not acquired.
“They are not telling you what it is because even with prospecting you still need an operating licence. Do you know even the small-scale miners in our locality hold operating licences which is renewed annually? Without that you cannot mine or do anything regarding mining. So let’s ask them, do they have that?
“They have not fulfilled the necessary conditions that will allow them to do whatever they intend doing at Nyinahini and based on that they don’t have any right to enter there.
“Exton Cubic was given a mining lease by the erstwhile government and that mining lease has conditions attached to it which they were supposed to fulfill before they go there to do anything. Currently speaking, Exton Cubic does not have a mining operative licence. Secondly, Exton Cubic does not have a valid EPA licence. Thirdly, Exton Cubic has never done any community engagement with the community involved,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Exton Cubic Group Limited has revealed that the seizure of their equipment by government has resulted in a halt of the company’s operations, resulting in losses of over $40,000 daily.
Addressing a press conference in Accra, Communications Director of Exton Cubic, Sammy Gyamfi, described the action to impound their equipment as an illegality.
He said, they are in talks with their lawyers to take legal action against the agencies frustrating their efforts, since they are suffering heavy financial losses over the halt in their prospecting activity.
He revealed they are “ready, we have all our permits, Engineers and Planning have not committed any offence, Exton Cubic has not committed any offence but we have been told by the minister that he is not ready to meet with us and that is why it has become and legal issue and we trust that our lawyers will deal with that”.
Exton Cubic Group Ltd earlier hit back at the EPA for suggesting the company did not have a permit to mine.
The spokesperson for the company, insists the statement issued by the EPA was “inaccurate” and a willful breach of natural justice saying the statement was riddled with hearsays and flawed in substance. Mr. Gyamfi accused the EPA of not communicating clearly with it on any possible legal breaches, as the agency has purported publicly.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah, has said his decision not to allow Exton Cubic Group to continue mining bauxite at the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve in the Atwima Mponua District, is in the interest of the country.
Mr. Osei-Mensah seized the equipment and logistics hired by the company for its operations, and has vowed not to release the equipment until the company produces documents to show they have been licensed to mine in the region. The equipment belong to Engineers and Planners Co. Ltd, a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of former President John Dramani Mahama.
Some critics have argued Mr. Osei-Mensah has taken an entrenched position to witch-hunt the brother of the former president, but the Minister insists his stance is not political.
Exton Cubic Group Limited believes the recent frustrations to halt its exploration of the Nyinahini bauxite concession may be a result of a witch hunt against it, adding the recent developments concerning the legality of operations in the Nyinahini bauxite concession of the Tano Offin Forest reserve have given it a reason to be concerned.
When asked if Exton Cubic suspected a witch hunt during a press conference yesterday, Samuel Gyamfi said: “… suspicions, yes, we will not discount that [a witch hunt] because the way things are happening and the way things are being done gives us great cause to worry.”
Mr. Gyamfi, in response to this, said: “… you [Exton Cubic] are the client of a state institution like the Environmental Protection Agency. You have been writing to them and you don’t receive any replies from them. The agency feels that you have done something untoward. You have breached a requirement of your permit. The agency doesn’t write to you. The agency doesn’t invite you for a meeting. Rather you will hear in the media that an adverse decision has been taken against you.”
He also reiterated the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, confirmation that his Ministry, granted Exton Cubic an entry permit into the Nyinahini bauxite concession, in the Tano Offin Forest reserve to prospect for Bauxite.
“You have your vehicles which have not been used for any illegal activity impounded. All the necessary information and clarification have been provided by the sector minister and by the authorities concerned. There is ample documentary evidence to show that we are not engaged in any illegal mining activities.”
But when “authorities are telling you we are not ready to meet you – to hell with you. That obviously will feed into that public perception that maybe there is an unseen hand somewhere which is trying so hard to find faults when none exist,” Mr. Gyamfi said.