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22.05.2007 Business & Finance

WACAM fires back

By D. Guide

WACAM and Youth for Action Ghana have expressed surprise at the decision of Ahafo Social Responsibility Forum (ASRF) to dissociate itself from a petition sent to Newmont's shareholders.

The petition of WACAM, among other things, drew attention to the physical and economic displacement of thousands of farmers who would be affected by Newmont's Ahafo mine.

ASRF, a group made up of representatives of communities in Newmont Gold Ghana Limited's operational areas and officials of the company, had dissociated themselves from WACAM's petition during a press conference.

ASRF, in a press statement, said: “Having worked with Newmont for a year, we are now convinced that the company means well for the Ahafo mine community.”

ASRF's statement noted that the forum had been set up to ensure that Newmont executed its commitment to sustain development in the Ahafo area with transparency of all mining processes towards the protection of the environment.

However, a counter statement released by the afore-mentioned civil society groups and jointly signed by Daniel Owusu-Koranteng of WACAM and James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr of Youth for Action Ghana, stated that: “We find it strange that ASRF mentions that it had dissociated itself from our petition, especially when ASFR was not mentioned as being part of it.”

It added: “Unfortunately, the press statement of ASRF did not respond to any of the critical issues of national concern raised in our petition to the Annual General Meeting of Newmont's shareholders.”

The statement questioned why the forum responded to community problems purely directed to the shareholders of Newmont when management of the mining company was rather silent.

“We are aware that ASRF is a structure created by Newmont to advance its interest and we do not expect the ASRF to act independently of Newmont,” it said.

The statement further stated the problem associated with Newmont's operations in Ahafo were issues of public concern, and that it behoved every patriotic Ghanaian to be concerned with the apparent destruction of productive potentials of the Ahafo area by Newmont's operations.

“We cannot sit down for mining to be undertaken in forest reserves when we know that we are losing our forest cover at an alarming rate,” it added.

The statement noted that it found it difficult to be part of a forum created and controlled by Newmont to advance its interest.

It re-affirmed WACAM and Youth for Action Ghana's commitment to live up to their civic responsibilities of supporting vulnerable communities who were toiling for the country.

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