…But welcome deputy minister’s intervention for community mining
Some residents of the Amansie South District in the Ashanti Region, are kicking against any proposal from the Asanko Gold Mining Limited, a large-scale mining firm, to relocate them to a different site for their much-awaited Community Mining project, contrary to the original site earmarked.
Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, during an engagement with the management of Asanko Gold Mines, recommended that, the mining firm cede part of its concessions to indigenes at its catchment areas for community mining, as one of the ways to enhance the relationship between the company and the communities.
As a result, he urged the company to earmark designated areas of their choice to the communities within its area, such as Tontokrom and Abore, for the project to lessen any invasion of illegal miners on its concession.
But, according to residents of Tontokrom, though they welcome the intervention by the deputy minister, any attempt by the company to relocate them to a new concession, will not favour them and inure to their benefit, because they do not have the requisite resources and machines to develop a new area for the project.
The leader and spokesperson of the residents, Kwabena Animoyam, told The Herald in a telephone interview, the authorities should consider their plea, because any attempt to allow Asanko Mines to take over where the youths have earmarked for the community mining, its operations will badly affect half of the Tontokrom communities, because of blasting.
“Where we can work and succeed is where we will work, that place is also close to the town. Even if we allow Asanko to work, they will mine half of the town. That will not help us. It will not augur well. We beg the minister that where we are is where we want for the community mining,” he pleaded.
He indicated that, in the case of Asanko mining, they have big machines and a vast land and, therefore, they can mine at anywhere of their choice, unlike the residents.
“If they say they are going to look for a different place for us, Asanko will take us to where we can’t mine [with our small machines].
So, as Ghanaians, we are begging the minister and the authorities that what he said we thank him and it is the truth, but we beg him, we cannot go and steal before getting something to eat so we want him to give us that land for the community mining,” he added.
Mr Animoyam further said, “We plead with Mr. President, all leaders that we want him to endorse this our request so Tontokrom can have community mining too, so the youth can have jobs.”
The deputy minister, as part of his working visit to the Asanko Gold Mines, on Tuesday, October 24, observed that, while the companies owe a duty to invest and contribute to the economic and social empowerment of residents of their catchment areas, the communities also have an obligation to put in place measures to ensure the maximization of the investment of the companies.
Mr Duker, urged the companies to make community engagement a key feature of their operations, as it keeps them abreast with the needs and challenges of the communities and how they can help alleviate those challenges.
The Tarkwa-Nsuaem legislator touched on the crucial role of local participation in companies, as it helps the communities feel a part of the company and therefore act in ways that enhance its development and growth.
On the communities, the minister charged them to use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to register their grievances, instead of resorting to violence or other illegal methods.
He proposed that communities can help companies deal with the illegal mining menace by volunteering information and ensuring that persons who engage in such acts are dealt with by the law.
“We always urge companies to cede off parts of their concessions for community mining. That could in a way help them prevent the communities from invading. Communities and companies must co-exist. We must find way of ensuring that communities and companies co-exist.
“Illegal mining and invasion of concessions have been headaches for many countries and Ghana is no exception but we must address this collectively. A company must exist but so is the community so we must come together and explore ideas on how best we can address this menace,” he stressed.
In his presentation, Dr Charles Amoah, the managing director of Asanko Mines, described the visit of the deputy minister and his entourage as an indication of government’s keen interest in his outfit’s operations.
He outlined some of the challenges the company has encountered in the past few years and explained that they have turned the curve and are now making some steady progress.
He believes that with the cooperation of the ministry, some of the challenges which are yet to be addressed will be surmounted.
Present during the engagement of Asanko Mines, were the district chief executives (DCEs) for Amansie South and Amansie West, Clement Opoku Gyamfi and Nii Larteh Ollenu, respectively.