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05.08.2003 General News

Minister tours mining communities

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Daman (W/R), Aug. 5, GNA - Mrs Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines has said the great challenge facing the mining industry is how to exploit the mineral resources without destroying the environment. She said there is the need to exploit mineral resources for development, but there is also the need to practise responsible mining to sustain the environment for future use.

Mrs Bannerman said this at Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL), Daman mine during a tour of the mine on Monday, which forms part of a four-day tour of mining companies in the Wassa West District. She was, however, impressed about the land reclamation which was intensively done at both Tarkwa and Daman mines but expressed worry about galamsey operators (illegal miners) who leave the land bare after their operations.

Mrs Bannerman, therefore, appealed to the local political and opinion leaders, chiefs and stakeholders to advise the galamsey operators to form groups and practise responsible mining to merit the support of her ministry.

She expressed concern about the use of mercury in gold recovery and said it is dangerous to their health.

Mr Richard Graeme, Managing Director, GFGL said some non-governmental organisations are always whipping public passion against the mining industry.

He said these NGOs have influenced some journalists to write negative stories about mining and this amounts to "assassination of the industry."

Mr Graeme said without foreign investment the mining industry in Ghana would be slow to take off.

"NGOs poisoning some journalists to write negative reports would poison investment drive in Ghana," he added.

He said GFGL would not tolerate exploitation and injustices in its operations and therefore, called on journalists to cross-check facts with GFGL before publishing stories about the mine.

Earlier in a briefing, Mr Charles Taschereau, Acting Manager of GFGL Daman mine said the current reserve of the mine is depleting and to extend the life of the mine, 2.5 million dollars was invested last year and 3.8 million dollars has been budgeted for this year to expand the exploration work.

Touching on the environment, he said the mine is ISO 14001 certified, which is the most recognised environmental management system, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) graded it as the best record holder of mines in Ghana in its EPA's last grading.

Mr Taschereau said reclamation bond was reduced to 0.78 million dollars in 2003 in recognition of the level of rehabilitation work done in specific areas of the mine.

He said out of 650 hectares of land disturbed, 250 hectares have been rehabilitated and planted with legumes, timber species, medicinal trees and cultivated farm plantations.

Mr Taschereau said last year the mine paid 26.1 billion cedis as royalties to the state.

Mr Robert Siaw, Local Affairs Manager of the mine said last year over one billion cedis was spent on community projects, including construction of community library at Daman, award of scholarship for local students and installation of hand-dug wells at some communities in its catchment area of operation.

He said owing to transparency in dealing with the local communities, demonstrations against the mine by surrounding communities have minimised.

Mr Siaw said Daman Mine Communities Consultative Committee (DMCCC), made up of traditional rulers, youth groups, local businessmen among others, has been formed to discuss the mine's activities that might affect communities and also receive requests and concerns from stakeholders.

He mentioned some of the challenges facing the mine as maintaining and improving on the standards set in environmental protection, health, safety and helping the local communities to develop alternative livelihood and sustainable development.

The Minister and her entourage toured the mine to see the rehabilitated lands including a 91-hectare site, planted with 2500 oil palm trees.

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