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04.02.2009 Business & Finance

Newmont Mining unhappy with award

Newmont Mining unhappy with award

Newmont Mining Corporation, a world leading gold producer, says its mining activities are undertaken in a responsible and environmental friendly manner.

In a statement in reaction to the 'Public Eye Award,' the company said its Akyem Project, for which it has been nominated for the award, had been a subject of extensive studies by international and national environmental experts, members of the communities living in the area, and by agencies and departments of Government.

The Public Eye Awards is a joint project of Berne Declaration and GREENPEACE Switzerland and awarded to organizations for bad corporate behaviour.

Newmont said, during the past five years, the Akyem Project has been the subject of a thorough environmental impact study process, public consultation processes, an independent review process and overall regulatory review.

The project has also engaged directly with numerous community representatives, NGOs, government agencies and international organizations on literally hundreds of occasions.

“These processes have demonstrated Newmont's respect for the Akyem community, and its interest in opinions which are supportive or contrary to the company's views,” the statement said.

Newmont says, while it values opposing views from groups and individuals who have demonstrated seriousness in understanding the project, its impacts and mitigation measures, it was clear that the text nominating the company for the “Public Eye award” was misleading in its many inaccuracies describing the Akyem project.

The company said, it was not even informed of the nomination or given any opportunity to respond, much less attend the ceremony.

The “Public Eye Award” has been issued based on several paragraphs of text, which clearly were intended to distort the facts. Every subject raised in the proposal had been studied by Newmont, discussed with the local communities, and presented in the environmental impact study currently being reviewed by the Ghana EPA.

Again, these studies were subjected to international and national environmental expert review and that of agencies of the government.

The Statement said three public hearings have been held at Akyem by the Ghana EPA, the first two in November 2004 and June 2005. In July 2008, at the final hearing, the Akyem communities demonstrated overwhelming support for the project and this was widely reported in the media.

Newmont has become a leader in Ghana, bringing innovation and high standards in its environmental practices, safety measures, and commitment to social responsibility.

“At the company's Ahafo Mine, efforts to protect the environment and its interest in contributing to the improvement of local communities' standard of living are visible every day. This could be seen in large-scale effective programmes such as the Ahafo Agribusiness Growth Initiative and the Ahafo Linkages Programmes, which have assisted thousands of farmers and local business people,” it said.

At Akyem, the company strives to be an active, contributing, reliable member of the community.

In 2007, Newmont became the first gold company selected to join the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index because of the company's industry-leading environmental and social performance.

“We continue to welcome serious and thoughtful input regarding our operations, as we seek to continually improve our performance. We welcome those who wish to engage in constructive debate to ensure the project is developed based on mutual respect and the creation of value for those who are affected by our activities,” the statement quoted Dr Chris Anderson, Newmont Ghana's Director of Corporate and External Affairs as saying.

Newmont won the award at the 2009 Public Eye Awards held in Davos, Switzerland, having been nominated by Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM).

Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, WACAM Executive Director, was in Davos to make the presentation.

In all, 24 companies were nominated for the Public Eye GLOBAL Award including companies like Deutche Bank; which provides funds for projects in South America without regard for Human rights, social and environmental impacts; BNP Paribas, which organises finances for a nuclear plant to be built in a Bulgarian earthquake region of Belene); Banco Santander, a Spanish Bank which invests in the construction of dams, which would displace 5,000 families; Newmont Mining Corporation, a mining company whose mining operations had displaced thousands of farmers and wants to mine in a Forest Reserve in Ghana; Tesco PLC, a clothing industry which does not allow the formation of Trade Unions.