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22.04.2007 General News

Gov’t must control mining companies – NGOs

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The Government has been urged to institute stronger controls over the mining industry to mitigate the negative impacts that were left on the poor and vulnerable in society.

Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) Ghana and Wassa Communities Against Mining (WACAM) both NGOs who made the call at a press conference in Accra said the massive extension of large scale mining across the country threatened food security and livelihood in the areas of mining operation.

"Any local community previously dependent on the renewable natural resources in these areas suffer immediate losses as a result of mining, with their livelihoods undermined, their social organizations disrupted and their culture transformed,” the said.

"Cash compensations, if paid, cannot restore these losses and the dark legacy of mining continues even after a mine is abandoned or closed," Mr Mike Anane Spokesperson for FIAN said.

He said it was a non-deniable fact that poor people depended most on the environment and the direct use of natural resources for their livelihood opportunities, and were therefore the most severely affected when the environment was degraded or their access to natural resources was limited or denied.

Mr Anane said although the mining industry would not be wished away, it was important that government and its development agencies instituted stronger controls over the industry to mitigate the impacts, as well as ensured that independent information were made available to those who needed it.

He also called for the strengthening of laws and regulations that would recognize the rights of the local communities and that, the people must have the right to veto proposals on projects on community lands.

"If mines could only go ahead with the free and informed consent of those communities likely to be affected, the playing field could be leveled, giving as much weight to social and environmental considerations as to economic ones," he said.

Mr. Anane called for a stop to the impunity of the transnational corporations who perpetrate social and environmental destructions, saying that serious human rights abuses had resulted from mining companies working with the security agencies to stifle legitimate community concerns.

Citing an incident that happened at Ntotoroso in the Ahafo North District of the Brong Ahafo region, he alleged some community members were brutalized at the hand of Newmont Ghana Gold limited operatives.

He therefore called on Newmont to ensure that such brutalities were never repeated.

Mr Daniel Owusu- Koranteng the WACAM representative said it was time that Ghanaians stood up to their national motto of Freedom and Justice.

After 50 years of nationhood it was important that we all tried to find out how the poor also accessed their freedom and justice, he said.

Source: GNA

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