Newmont Ghana Gold Mining Reacts
A summary of Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. response to the list of grievances presented to Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. by a group of youth from Kenyase in the Brong Ahafo Region. The company’s responses were presented to the youth during a meeting held on Sunday the 5th of October 2003 at the local community center in Kenyase #2. Youth of Kenyase C/O Box Kenayse 1st October 2003 The Manager Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Accra Dear Sir, RESOLUTION ON THE ACTIVITES OF NEWMONT GHANA GOLD LTD. At a general meeting of the youth of Kenyasi held on October 1st 2003 it was resolved among others that: 1. The Mining Company, Newmont Ghana Gold should as a matter of urgency dismiss all strangers and employ natives immediately before the selection of trainees. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Human Resources Newmont Mining Corporation as a global company must adhere to the labor laws of the countries in which it operates. Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. can therefore not arbitrarily dismiss people without plausible reasons. Moreover, the company’s concession area in Ahafo encompassess 11 local communites. All those within these communites are viewed by us as part of the Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. family. It should also be noted that currently 60% of the people employed by Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. are from Kenyase. That means that for every 10 people employed by the company, 6 are from the Kenayse area. A copy of the current employment statistics in the Ahafo concession area was presented to verify the statement. 2. The company should explain to us why two people from Kenyasi who were working at Techere were sacked through the influence of the chief and people of the town. Response from GeoSearch Drill Superintendent & Current Employee from Kenyase The drill superintendent from GeoSearch, (a drill contractor working for Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd.) explained the circumstances under which two young men from Kenyase had their appointments terminated. He explained that as a contractor, he can only retain people as and when he has jobs. His work load had decreased significantly and therefore he informed two of the six young men from Kenyase who were working with him that Geosearch would have to let them go. In addition to giving them the stipulated notice, he also paid a month’s salary to them. He therefore emphasized that no one from Techere had forced him to sack those two young men. One of the four young men from Kenyase who currently remains in GeoSearch’s employment confirmed that this account was accurate. He also added that the truth was that the two individuals in question had been given several warnings about sleeping and drunkeness on the job. When it came time to let two people go, the contractor selected those who perhaps in his view performed least creditably. He concluded by saying that he and his other collegues from Kenyase who continue to work have not been harrassed by anyone in Techere. 3. The company should consult owners of farms they want to do land cutting as they do to farms they drill. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Community Relations Because Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd.’s community relations officers are having to deal with significantly larger number of farmers within the surveyor’s line, the department will examine other possible alternatives to ensure that farmers are made aware when line cutting is to be done including beating the gong-gong as one method of notification. 4. The company should make prompt payment of compensation to farmers for destroying their farm produce. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Community Relations The process for handling crop compensation has indeed become longer. However, this is because of the significantly larger quantities of money now involved. Initially, because there were not so many farmers involved, cash payments were made almost immediately. Now it is unsafe to transport bulk sums of money by road. The company made a decsion to support rural banks in the comnunity and therefore decided to have compensation cheques processed through the rural banks. Unfortunately, the capacity of those banks are not always able to handle the large volumes of money that are currently being paid out. The end result has been that, more time is required to clear cheques before payment is made. Because this issue has been raised, the company will examine new alternatives and collaborate with its partners in the communities to see how it can assist to make the process more expiditious.
5. The company should pay fair compensation for destroyed farms and property. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Community Relations Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. uses rates stipulated by the Land Valuation Board to prepare compensation rates. Other external factors such as inflation are factored into the current rates. All these are coupled with roundtable negotiations involving farmer representatives before a decsion is made regarding compensation rates. It is the company’s policy to review these rates on a yearly basis. Therefore, early next year, when the rates are due for review, this point will be addressed. 6. The company should avoid the covert/overt means of disseminating information on the project to us. (I.e) on recruitment (employment) and date of commencement of mining. E.g. Last February 2003 the company told us that they will start employment on October 1st 2003 but nothing had happened. So they should let us know their stand now. NEPOTISM MUST CEASE!! Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Human Resources Setting up a mine is a time consuming exercise. Like other potential mine projects around the world, there are a series of phases the project in Ahafo must go through before significant recruitment can begin. The company is currently in the exploratory phase where just a few jobs requiring unskilled labor are available. The next phase, involving construction which we hope will begin next year, will also only provide a specific number of jobs. During that phase, it is contractors who will be constructing the mine who will be hiring people. However, in order that the company retains its transparency values during that phase of the project, it will manage recruitment for contractors who will be hiring people for construction work. I.e The company’s Human Resources department will process applications, conduct interviews and for those who meet the necessary requirements, they will be shortlisted and supplied to contractors. The following must also be stressed; it is indeed true that one of our executives mentioned a possible date in October this year to begin recruitment. However, that statement was made with the hope that other external factors not within the company’s time control would come to fruition. Those external factors include the finalization of a decision from the company’s board of directors to invest in mine development in Ghana as well as the signing of an investment agreement between the company and the Government of Ghana. Unfortunately, those decsions have not as yet been made. More importantly, Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. is not driven by its technical desires to undertake this project. The main driver of this project for Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. is obtaining a social licence to operate. Therefore, until the company has a social action plan in place that its local community stakeholders have helped them to design, it will not simply start up the project just to produce temporary jobs. The company’s focus is on sustainable development. This is why it has been involving itself in discussions with its local community leaders in this regard. 7. The company should let us know the social responsibilities for the Kenyase community. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Community Relations As was indicated, Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd.’s projects are governed by its desire to meet its social obligations. Apart from engaging local community stakeholders in discussions to arrive at a viable social action plan, it has asked for independent assistance from respected non-governmental organizations including OIC International who have expertise in assessing the livelihood status of communities. They were to provide the company with an independently prepared report giving information about the skill-sets, training needs etc of the communities beginning with Kenyase. Those individuals were on their way to Kenyase to begin collecting that data when they were turned back by some youth agitators. 8. The company’s intention to put up the recruitment center builidng at Sunyani must be put off and instead must be built at any of the catchment towns preferably Kenyase being the capital town within the area. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Human Resources The decision to locate a human resources center in Sunyani is not final. The Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd.’s Human Resources department is simply looking at various locations where it can efficiently process applications it receives. The company will ensure that the process for submitting applications is transperent and very easy for people in the local communites in which it operates. 9. Concerning employment we do accept that people who can read and write should be employed but consideration should be given to those who can not read and write during the recruitment to undertake unskiilled jobs. We are saying this because most of the youth in the catchment area are illiterates. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Human Resources Newmont Mining Corporation has businesses all around the world and has in place various literacy requirements because of safety and health concerns associated with the mine environment. In recognizing the issues associated with educational levels in impacted communities, the company is working with non-governmental organizations and local community stakeholders to understand literacy levels so that it can take that into consideration in its hiring process. 10. The President of the company visited Ghana from US but was not allowed to meet Nananom and farmers of the catchment area. We are eager to meet him at the shortest possible time. Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Community Relations The president of the company did stop over briefly in the country. Because there are so many sites in the concession area and his schedule woul not allow him to meet all Nananom and farmers from the area, he had to leave. However, Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. will do its best to ensure that during his next visit, some time is made for him to meet Nananom and farmers in the catchment areas. 11. Does the company pay ground rent? Response from Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. Manager – Community Relations All ground rents are paid to the Stool Lands Administrator. Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. has receipts that show that it has made the necessary payments. This may also be confirmed from the Stool Lands Administrator’s office. Following the meeting held on Sunday and the kind intervention of the regional minister and Nananom, an understanding has been reached. Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. remains committed to ensuring that its activities are beneficial not only to the people of Kenyase, but everyone in its concession areas. We look forward to support and partnership with all our stakeholders in making that happen. I am available to answer any additional questions you may have. Yours Sincerely, Mawuena Dumor Manager Communications Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd. 021-7011852