The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will by the end of 2012 implement a Common Mining Code, to ensure the harnessing and harmonising of mineral resources for growth and development of the sub-region.
To this end, an ECOWAS Directive has been adopted by the ECOWAS Council Ministers of Mines, at meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Directive will be a prelude to the implementation of the Common Mining Code, which seeks to ensure a concordance in the approach by member states in harmonising their national mining legislations.
The Executive Director of the Wassa Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, disclosed this at a workshop for civil society organisations on the ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector in Accra.
He further disclosed that a Common Mining Policy would also be implemented concurrently with the mining code, to help streamline mineral resources legislations in the sub-region. To give credence to the ECOWAS Directive, Mr. Owusu-Koranteng called on the Ghanaian government to revoke the Environmental Permit granted to Newmont Akyem project to mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve, and also demonstrate its preparedness to define Forest Reserves as “No Go Zones” for mining.
Additionally, “We also call on government to revoke the Environmental Permit provided to Adamus Resources to mine in Teleku Bokazo, Anwia and Nkroful, as a way of avoiding the conflicts that had been generated as result of the intended mining operations in the area, and to respect community opposition to the mining project. We believe that if government takes these initial actions, it would send positive signals of its commitment to ensure the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Directive.”
Speaking on a topic “ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector-Prospects and Challenges,” the Deputy Executive Director of the Centre for Public Interest Law, Mr. Augustine Niber, noted that the objectives of the ECOWAS Directive comply with the provisions of Article 31, chapter 6 of the Revised Treaty, which prescribes the harmonisation of policies in the natural resources sector of member states.
The main objectives of the ECOWAS Directive are the adoption of a common mining policy, and the adoption of a common mining code for West African countries.
While the main convergence guiding principles formally stated in the formulation of the Directive are included to contribute to the macro-economic development of the member states, promote development and infrastructure at local and regional levels, and ensure fair allocation of minerals income to local communities, and to the member states in enabling the promotion of a sustainable development policy.
Commenting on the Gaps of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), a Legal Practitioner, Mr. John Opoku, described the Act as one of the perfect examples of the neo-colonial law.
He argued that the Act gives more power to the multinational mining companies than the poor indigenous mining communities, and called on parliament to amend the Act.
The Director In-Charge of Monitoring and Research of WACAM, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, used the occasion to outline some of the challenges facing mining advocacy in the country.
These, she mentioned, were weak legal frameworks for mining, weakening environmental standards, and weak regulatory institutions, a huge capacity gap between mining communities and multinational mining companies, and lack of organisation for mining communities.