Newmont Ghana, a subsidiary of Newmont Mining Corporation, said on Tuesday it remained eager to develop the Akyem Project and was completing further analysis on its economics to ensure sustainability.
A statement signed by Ms Adiki Ayitevie, Regional Manager, Communications, said Newmont was working with government and other key stakeholders to complete key options to bolster efficiency of the project in the face of current global dynamics.
“Given the current global financial crisis, the shortage of capital and reduced commodity prices, all Newmont projects are being reviewed and the Akyem project is also undergoing this evaluation process,” the statement said, adding that Newmont had not suspended the project as reported in sections of the media.
It said options being considered included a long-term power solution, identification of opportunities including development options, as well as capital and operating cost optimization and these aspects needed to be completed to form the 'Stage Gate II' of the development process.
The Stage Gate is part of the normal development process to evaluate a new project financially and technically to ensure its long term viability for both shareholders and local communities.
The statement said it was important that the project be developed in the right way to ensure it was economically viable, environmentally responsible and socially sustainable.
“Since the Akyem Project is a large investment, we are working with the relevant agencies to ensure that power supply for the project is reliable and economically sustainable.”
Some pressure groups have opposed the Akyem project under which Newmont Ghana is expected to mine about 12 percent of the south-east fringe area of the Ajenjua Bepo Production Forest Reserve, with all other mining activities concentrated outside the forest.
The Forestry Commission has classified the Ajenjua Bepo Forest fringes which would be mined as Forest Condition IV, indicating a mostly degraded forest.
The Commission also noted that the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve was not one of the Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas in Ghana and that it had been logged and the timber harvested.
Newmont said there had been a great deal of local pressure to see the Akyem Project commence.
“We are aware that there is a great deal of expectation, particularly from the local community to begin the project as soon as possible. We appreciate the community support and positive anticipation for the project”.
“But it is important that it is developed in the right way to ensure it is economically viable, environmentally responsible and socially sustainable,” the statement added.
Currently Newmont operates in Ahafo where more than 27 percent of the employees are from the local communities and the company says it will have similar proportion of the workers at the Akyem Project, once operation commences.
The company said more than 90 percent of farmers directly displaced by the development of the Ahafo Mine project were farming again under its agricultural improvement and land access program.
Newmont is the first gold company selected to join the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index because of the company's industry-leading environmental and social performance.