Ms. Hani Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, has suggested that certain aspects of the mining Act (Act 703) needed to be reviewed to ensure that communities in mining areas enjoy more benefits from the mines.
The Minister said the ministry had received a number of complaints from mining communities including those about the payment of compensation and royalties by mining companies.
Ms. Ayittey was paying a courtesy call on Kenyasi Number one and Kenyasi Number two traditional areas as part of her familiarization visit to the plant site of the Ahafo project of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) at Kenyasi.
She advised the unemployed youth in mining communities and illegal mining operators to organise themselves in groups and register to obtain licenses so that they could engage in small scale mining.
The Minister explained that the ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources had decided to educate both illegal mining and chainsaw operators on the need to form groups so that they could be seen as recognized bodies and given concessions.
This will not only help to preserve the country’s forests but will also encourage foreign investors into the mining sector, Ms Ayittey said.
Ms. Ayittey advised mining companies to adhere to proper environmental management practices to avoid the outbreak of diseases in the communities.
She appealed to traditional authorities in mining communities to help track down illegal gold (galamsey) miners.
She said illegal gold mining and its consequential deaths on perpetrators posed a serious threat to the mining industry and the country’s human resource base.
Mr. Emmanuel Ato Aubyn, Community Relations Manager, disclosed that NGGL had invested $774 million in the Ahafo project, adding, $ 33.3 million had also been paid as royalties.
He said the company had so far spent $270 million on local goods and services and its annual gold pour stood at 550K ounces.
On land access programme, Mr. Aubyn said the mining company had spent $17 million on the resettlement of 1,700 households and $16 million spent on crop compensation.
The company has spent $21 million on livelihood re-establishment programmes such as agricultural improvement and land access, vulnerable, Ahafo agribusiness growth initiative, livelihood enhancement and empowerment as well as Ahafo linkages programmes, he said.
Mr. Aubyn said Newmont had its first gold pour in July 2006 and the last production would be in the year 2027.