Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) has called on the current generation to leave some of the natural resources for future generations, a statement by Mr Daniel Owusu Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM, said.
WACAM, an environmental and social advocacy nongovernmental organisation, said “if Newmont is allowed to mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve, it would displace thousands of farmers; destroy biodiversity, large hectares of cocoa and crop farms and cemeteries and leave a huge pit in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve.
It said the one-off payment of compensation of about eight Ghana Cedis for a cocoa tree destroyed would not be in the best interest of farmers in the long term, since they would be deprived of sustainable livelihoods.
WACAM was responding to a statement purported to have been issued by Chiefs; Birim North Youth Council Members; Assembly Members: Birim North Members of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Community Consultative Committee Members, attacking WACAM for issuing a statement on the Newmont's Akyem Mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve.
WACAM accused Newmont of orchestrating the statement because it nominated the Company for the 2009 Public Eye Award and People's Award, which are shaming awards for irresponsible corporate behaviour.
The 2009 Public Eye Award was organised by Greenpeace Switzerland and Berne Declaration.
The award ceremony was held in Davos, Switzerland on 28th January 2009 and Newmont Mining Corporation won the 2009 Public Eye Global Award for irresponsible corporate behaviour, which is determined by a Jury of experts, and the 2009 Public Eye People's Award for irresponsible corporate behaviour, determined through internet voting involving 10,331 voters.
WACAM cited some of the irresponsible corporate behaviour of Newmont to include the disposal of faecal waste into River Asuopre in the Kenyase area of the Company's Ahafo Mine and compensating the communities that drank the faecal polluted water with rice, corned beef, cooking oil and an amount of about 12 Ghana Cedis.
It also mentioned problems associated with Newmont's Ahafo Mine such as displacement of about 10,000 landowners in the first phase of the Ahafo Mine and a possible displacement of an equal number of people in the second phase of the Ahafo Mine; one-off payment of compensation of about 8 Ghana Cedis (about $9) for a cocoa tree; loss of livelihood of the people; creation of dam on river Subri, which had denied some communities of access to drinking water and also the dam posing a threat to the safety of community people since some of them have been drowning in the dam; Military and Police brutalities of people, who protest against Newmont among other things.
WACAM said it was the “Public Agenda” newspaper of 20th June 2008 that published the story that Newmont paid monies ranging from 4,000 Ghana cedis to 10,000 Ghana Cedis to some chiefs in the Akyem area, around the time of the public hearing on the Akyem Mine Project.
WACAM said: “Whilst some community people in the Akyem area strongly believed that the amounts were paid to influence the Chiefs to speak in favour of Newmont's Akyem project at Public Hearing, Newmont claimed that the amounts were to cover the administrative cost of the Chiefs.
“Indeed Mr Kwabena Frimpong, who is a member of the Royal family of Hweakwae and the son of a former Chief of Adausina, stated at the Public Hearing on the Akyem Project on 4th July 2008 that, the monies paid by Newmont to the Chiefs around the period of the Public consultations had influenced the Chiefs in providing public support to Newmont's Akyem Project. The allegation of payment of monies by Newmont to some Chiefs in Akyem area which had been confirmed by Newmont had never been made by WACAM.”
Referring to the statement from Birim North asking WACAM to mind its own business by working in the Wassa area, the NGO said; “Newmont's intended mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve is a matter of national and global interest. In this period of growing concerns about deforestation, global warming and climate change, mining in a forest reserve of such biodiversity importance is not an issue of concern to the people of Akyem area alone.
“It is for this reason that over 6,000 people from over 50 countries in the world signed a petition against the intended mine in Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve. In Ghana, the National Coalition on Mining had expressed its opposition against mining in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve and prominent religious people like the Most Reverend Dr Aboagye Mensah, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana had added their voices against mining in Forest Reserves,” WACAM said.