Following our three days evidence-gathering visit to five communities in the Tano North District of the Ahafo Region where Newmont Africa is developing a new mining site, we recommend that, the mining company temporarily halt its exploration activities for the following reasons:
Destruction of farmlands and depriving the livelihood of farmers
In our mission visit from the 15-18 October 2023, we discovered that, Newmont Africa has started in earnest the clearing of farmlands for its exploration activities in the Ahafo North Mine Project in communities such as Terchire, Afrisipakrom and Susano. But some of the farmlands being cleared by the mining company are under LITIGATION.
It was revealed that, Newmont Africa had entered the lands of some farmers by unlawfully destroying their farm properties without the consent of the owners or negotiating payment of compensation for their farm properties. The destroyed properties comprise teak trees, cocoa farms, palm trees, and food crops.
Some of the affected farmers who spoke to the Environment Report are John Mensah, Chairman of the Concern Farmers Association at Terchire, Beatrice Mensah, Yaw Paul Asare, Abraham Amo Mensah, Gabriel Kofi Nelson, and Emmanuel Kwame Marfo. The farms serve as the main source of livelihood for these farmers and according to them, they have no other source of livelihood after witnessing the destruction of their farm properties without any compensation from Newmont Africa.
This revelation was in sharp contrast to the press statement by Newmont Africa on September 13, 2023, in which the company stated that, its exploration team inadvertently impacted one of the farms that has not been compensated.
Destruction of Fishponds including that of the Ahafo Regional best fish farmer
As part of its lands clearing activities in the Ahafo North Mine Project, Newmont Africa has also not spared the fish farmers in the area as hundreds of ponds have been completely destroyed or polluted, including the fishpond of the 2020 Ahafo Regional Best Fish Farmer, Mr Sampson Owusu.
Some of the affected fish farmers are Nana Bonin Nkrawiri IV, Samson Owusu, Amoako Anthony, Moses Addai, Justice Kwame Ntim, Damptey Agyemang Peter, Enoch Damptey Agyemang, Andrews Adu- Amankwa, Paul Yaw Asare, Ahmed Said Addai, Issaka Abudu, Georgina Tamakloe, Agyen Hayford, Abdul Hamid Issaka, Grace Antwiwaa and Christopher Kwarteng.
According to the 2020 Best Ahafo Regional Farmer, it was since the year 2008, that he started his fish farming business and it was no surprise he won the coveted award in the year 2020.
Visiting some of the fish ponds in Afrisipakrom, our mission team discovered polluted ponds, and some completely destroyed ones but the fish farmers say Newmont Africa has failed to pay any compensation to them after taking their source livelihood from them.
The 2020 Ahafo Best Fish Farmer confirmed to our mission team that, despite the massive destruction and its negative toll on the livelihood of the fish farmers, Newmont has denied any liability for payment of compensation on the grounds that the fish ponds were Speculative Development.
In a petition dated 22nd September 2023, lawyers for the aforementioned fish farmers challenged Newmont’s claim that the fish farming business was speculative, describing Newmont's position as totally erroneous and flouting all mandatory statutory provisions relative to the payment of compensation to persons affected by mining activities.
The petition from the Chambers of S.K. Boafo and Co gave a fourteen days’ notice from the receipt of the letter to pay adequate compensation to the affected fish farmers but after more than a month, the farmers had received no reply from Newmont Africa, even though their source of livelihood has been taken away from them.
As a mining company that prides itself on having due regard for the human rights of all persons affected by its mining projects, we recommend that, Newmont Africa temporarily halt all exploration activities at the Ahafo North Project to address the concerns of the farmers, especially the 84 members of the Concern Farmers Association whose land are under litigation as well as the affected fish farmers.
We also urge Newmont Africa to quickly withdraw all court cases against some members of the Concerned Farmers at Terchire for amicable settlement through a mediator.
It is true that Newmont Africa has in all its mining operations in Ghana been using the Resettlement and Crop Rate Negotiation Committees, jointly constituted by impacted farmers, property owners, traditional leaders, as well as community and government representatives to determine compensation to farmers. But since the concerned farmers are not satisfied with the work of the Committee, it is imperative that Newmont Africa meet their demand by renegotiating with these farmers. They are going to lose their livelihood forever and as the 15th July 2021 press statement by Newmont rightly indicated, “The Ahafo North Project is the Best Unmined Gold in West Africa”, and it is important that those whose livelihoods are going to be affected are equally compensated.
2nd November, 2023
Awudu Salami Sulemana Yoda
Director, The Environment Report