Terchire (B/A), July 17, GNA - Ms. Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Mines, on Friday said the Chamber is committed to sustainable and the best international practices and methods in mining operations.
Ms. Aryee was speaking at Terchire in the Tano District when she presented 41,500 tree seedlings to the Brong-Ahafo Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) as its contribution towards the Newmont Gold Company's reforestation project in the area.
The Chamber also donated 20 million cedis for the planting of the seedlings.
She said the presentation was the second by the Chamber in support of the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI) on re-forestation. The Chamber made a donation of 27,000 seedlings in the first presentation.
Ms Aryee said, "the Chamber acknowledges that consultation with and participation by key stakeholders is integral to our ability to balance the interests of the industry against those of the stakeholders to achieve common objectives".
She said the Chamber would adopt responsible practices, policies and principles, which promoted the conservation and rejuvenation of the natural, social and economic environments in which its members operated. "The mining industry in Ghana acknowledges that these represent a strategic resource for both present and future generations", Ms. Aryee said.
She said that the Chamber members sought "to minimize the impact of their operations on the environment to the maximum extent practicable and strive towards being more socially conscious and transparent in all its operations".
Ms Aryee noted that members of the Chamber had continued to reclaim and helped to rehabilitate and re-vegetate areas that had not been disturbed by mining activities.
The CEO reiterated that the Chamber and its members were willing to work with relevant authorities to ensure that mining and related activities contributed towards the improvement of the lives of the communities, in which they operated.
Mr. Dave Ingle, General Manager in-charge of Newmont Ghana Ahafo Project, said over 750 million US dollars had been invested in the operations of the company.
He said the Terchire nursery reforestation project started in August 1999 had established 75 acres of forest and provided seedlings for the start of the River Tano Shrine Reforestation project, adding that, the focus was on endangered and 'near-extinct' timber species. Mr. Ingle said Newmont Ghana was also considering a number of partnerships with national and international institutions with expertise in biodiversity to provide a strategic, complementary and holistic approach to the company's reforestation programme.
He said that 112,820 seedlings had been given free of charge to the Company's external partners within the last six years of the nursery at Terchire.
Some of the beneficiaries are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Schools, Churches and individuals.
Mr. Ingle thanked the Chamber for its contributions and mentioned that AshantiGold had also made similar donation of 1,500 seedlings and expressed the hope that Newmont Ghana would get more of such assistance from other stakeholders for a sustained reforestation effort.
On behalf of RCC, Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Regional Minister, thanked Ms. Aryee for the concern and said the launch of the PSI at Ayigbe in the region by President Kufuor in 2002 stemmed from the fact that the degradation of the nation's forests was getting worse.
He said it was refreshing that the Forestry Commission, Chamber of Mines and other stakeholders have been contributing to the nation's reforestation programme.
The Regional Minister urged local communities not to let the short-term monetary aspect of compensation over-ride the long-term benefits to be derived in mining operations in their areas. He advised chiefs and people in mining areas in the region to report any irregularities to him or the RCC for a solution.
"The NPP Government will not condone and connive with any mining company or organization to cheat the citizenry", Nana Seinti said. Earlier, Ms. Aryee, Nana Seinti and the other dignitaries were conducted round the 60,000 capacity Terchire nursery project.