Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group’s Response To Betterland Ghana Ltd.’s Recent Statement & Press Conference!

By Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group
Rejoinder Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group’s Response To Betterland Ghana Ltd.’s Recent Statement & Press Conference!

Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group reiterates our unwavering stand on, and informed opposition to the Minerals Commission's issuance of licenses to companies to mine in Ghana’s already beleaguered Forest Reserves on this International Global Biodiversity Day! This statement is our response to Betterland Ghana Ltd.’s statement issued on 15th May 2024 and a press conference held the same day, in response to the Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group’s Petition to the President of the Republic of Ghana and Ghana’s Mineral Commission regarding the issuance of licenses to Betterland Ghana Ltd. to mine gold, diamonds, and lithium in the Draw River Forest Reserve. We also acknowledge the Petition dated 20th May 2024 by the concerned elders and members of Banso Azewua Royal Stool of Gwira Banso in the Nzema East Municipality against the mining concession granted for the Draw River Forest Reserve. Given our concerns about the degradation of Ghana’s forest reserves, in 2023, we fully supported the call by Occupy Ghana and other environmental advocacy organizations for the revocation of LI 2462 and EI 144.

The Draw River Forest Reserve was established in 1937. It covers 235 km of forest land in the Nzema East Municipality, and the Draw River flows through the eastern part of the forest reserve. This is a vast expanse of virgin forest that should never be mined because it was designated as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) in 1954. There are thirty (30) forest reserves in Ghana that have been re-designated as Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs). As a signatory to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Ghana is obligated to comply with the legally binding UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty that it signed. As a signatory to the UN CBD, Ghana is obligated to formulate measures to reach the CBD goals! Target 5 required that by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced! The CBD meeting that is currently taking place in Nairobi from 21st to 29th May, 2024 of delegates from the 196 nations that adopted the CBD is expected to adopt a “Biodiversity Plan” to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. These are serious biodiversity and environmental goals that Ghana must adhere to before COP 16!

Instead of working assiduously towards the protection of forests, biodiversity, and the UN CBD treaty goals, the Mineral Commission has instead accelerated the issuance of mining leases in a GSBA with the support of the Environmental Protection Agency which should be monitoring and ensuring compliance with the CBD treaty that Ghana signed. Despite the blatant lack of

compliance, at the 19th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF19) that was held at the UN Headquarters in New York from 6th May 2024 to 11th May 2024, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, MP, called on world leaders to increase financing for forest action, to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. The UNFF19 adopted a Declaration and several resolutions aimed at promoting sustainable forest management!

In its response to our Petition and on its website, Betterlands Ghana Ltd. (Betterland) paints an image of its involvement in sustainable mining and land reclamation! However, a review of the Minerals Commission’s website’s repository of information shows that Betterland was incorporated in 2017. It registered for a prospecting license on 23rd August, 2022. It has one active mining lease license ML2/236 that was issued on 10th May, 2023 and expires on 9th May, 2033. It has three prospecting mining licenses in the validation phase and one mining lease

license under review. Betterland’s parent Tower Assets Limited has a restricted small scale mining lease issued on 28th June, 2017! There is no information on either Betterland or Tower Assets’ actual mining operations. Our attempt to deliver our Petition to Betterland and Tower Assets at their Accra and Kumasi addresses and mailing addresses failed!

At a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee held on 15th May 2024, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Nzema East Municipal Assembly admitted to the Committee that he was only aware of one out of nine mining companies operating in Nzema East that had been identified by the Auditors. The MCE also admitted that the Assembly does not have a Task Force to monitor the operations of the mining companies. This is the prevalent situation in most municipalities and districts which lack the resources or the will to monitor mining activities to prevent the degradation of forests, land, and rivers.

The Ghana Forestry Commission also does not have the infrastructure and systems in place to adequately monitor mining activities in Forest Reserves and compliance with the UN CBD treaty that Ghana signed! We call on the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with the UN CBD treaty and stop approving mining lease licenses for mining in Ghana’s Forest Reserves, especially those that are designated as GSBAs!

By Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group; +16477826202; 0202697430; 0244315864; 0530504313

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024