The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and other advocacy groups has embarked on a peace march to draw the attention of the shareholders of Newmont Ghana to the problems created for the communities affected by the Company’s operations.
Speaking in Accra, Mr James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr, Executive Director, Youth for Action Ghana, said the march was organized to coincide with the Annual General Meeting of the Company’s shareholders in Delaware, USA, and that he appreciated the concerns raised by the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines of the activities of mining companies in the affected communities, adding, 'it is about time we move from recognition stage to concrete action on the ground'.
Mr. Bomfeh Jnr said it was unacceptable for Newmont to pay eight dollars for each cocoa tree destroyed since each tree had the potential of yielding 20 dollar worth of cocoa beans every year for 40 years to 50 years - the economic life of the tree.
'We want the shareholders to know that the profits that would be declared by Newmont today which would warrant the increase in salaries of CEO of the Company and his team, results from a lot of pain and misery inflicted on the poor mining communities,' he said.
Mr Bomfeh Jnr said it was important to inform the shareholders of Newmont that advocacy organization and the affected communities were opposed to the desire of the Company to mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve.
He described the current mining laws of Ghana as 'weak and unacceptable' and called on the Government and Parliament to protect the interests of Ghanaians by enacting laws that would be favourable to the affected communities.
Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM, said instead of Newmont developing internal policies that would be sensitive to the concerns of communities affected by its operations, it rather chose to hold the meeting in the USA in order to avoid the usual protests by the communities and activists, who were unhappy about the effects of the Company’s operations.
'Few years of operations in Ghana convinces us that, Newmont had not learnt useful lessons from the protests against its operations in many parts of the world and the shareholders need to be aware of this', he said.
Mr Owusu-Koranteng said some farmers in Kenyase had complained that Newmont had refused to pay compensation for their farms and that the District Chief Executive was tasked by the Regional Minister to investigate the case and that the affected farmers had not been informed of the outcome of the investigations.
He said the affected farmers had been prevented from farming on the disputed area and had also not been compensated adding, 'the farmers are of the opinion that Newmont had found a way to acquire their lands and farms for free'.
Some of the Protestants held placards some of which read: 'Parliament Make Strong Laws'; 'Stop This Environmental And Human Rights Abuses'; and 'Paying Eight Dollars For A Cocoa Tree Is Criminal, Stop It'.