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23.03.2007 General News

Newmont to double 2007 royalties


The Director of External Affairs of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, Dr. Chris Anderson says the company hopes to double the 3.7 million dollars it paid as royalties last year.

He said the company paid the amount after only five months operations at its Ahafo project during which it poured its first gold in July last year and produced 203,000 ounces of the gem.

Dr. Anderson disclosed this when he paid a courtesy call on the office of Ghana News Agency in Sunyani as part of a familiarization tour of media houses in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

President John Agyekum Kufuor inaugurated the operations of the company in November last year.

Dr. Anderson said the company acknowledged the importance of the media and was very proud to be involved in Ghana's growing democracy and buoying economy.

He said "Our doors are always open to the media to help remove any erroneous impressions of communities about mining activities", adding Newmont was determined to work to ensure the well-being of people living in mining communities.

Dr Anderson said the company was supporting small businesses among the communities so that such businesses could also employ other people, "since Newmont cannot employ all".

He said Newmont last year used two million dollars to support 48 small-scale businesses as tailoring, food processing, rearing of animals at the Ahafo project area.

"We are trying as much as possible to ensure that as much as possible the benefits of gold remains in the local area", Dr Anderson stated.

Dr Anderson said Newmont would this year spend 200 million dollars on new capital, operating expenses, wages and salaries at its Ahafo project, adding about 80 per cent of the amount would be paid to Ghanaian companies.

On its social responsibilities, the director stated that the company believed in open dialogue with the communities in which it operated to ensure peaceful co-existence for the benefit of the people and the company.

Dr. Anderson cited that Newmont last year held a forum for the chiefs, people, youth executives, chief farmers, local non-governmental organisations and politicians, on its operations and a contract agreement between the two sides was being worked out.

"As a company we have to respect the chiefs, opinion leaders and the rest of the people and as such we want to be more transparent with our partners", he said.

Dr Anderson said this to debunk a claim by the people that their chiefs had been receiving favours from the company, stressing, "We never pay the chiefs or give them any special favours".

He said the company had introduced new standards for the management of the environment for the first time, which involved the management of cyanide, water quality, blasting, dust and noise.

Dr. Anderson said, Newmont was training community leaders to help monitor the environment and to ensure that more farmers had access to land under the company's agricultural programme.

He stated that the company was doing all it could to ensure the safety of its workers, saying 35 buses were at the disposal of workers.

Dr. Anderson said "By this family integrity has remained and this has lowered the HIV/AIDS scare that some people have associated with mining areas due to the influx of different shades of people to such areas."

Mr. Charles Koomson, Regional Manager of GNA expressed appreciation for the visit, which he said was important and necessary as it would help the media to offer balanced news stories.

Mr. Koomson, who is also the Chairman of the Brong-Ahafo branch of the Ghana Journalists Association gave the assurance that the media in the region would operate within the association's code of ethics.

Source: GNA