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11.08.2004 Business & Finance

Government yet to take a position on Bonte Mines

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Accra, Aug. 11, GNA - Government is yet to take a position on the liquidation of the Bonte Mines, the Ministry of Mines said on Wednesday. Mr Ohene Okine, Chief Director, who spoke to the GNA said a statement would be issued to the media whenever the government was had taken a position.

He said the Minister of Mines, Mrs Cecilia Bannerman had just returned from a trip abroad and would be briefed by the various stakeholders including the Minerals Commission, and the PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the proposed liquidators.

The liquidation of the mines last March was said to have caused the loss of about 400 jobs. There was also a debt of 18 million dollars owed to public and private institutions and a degraded land stretching more than 18 kilometres.

At a press conference held in Accra on July 20, Third World Network (TWN) Africa, a non-governmental organisation, accused the regulatory institutions of recklessness and collusion in "the whole sordid rip-off" of the Bonteso Mining Community in the Ashanti Region.

Bonte Gold Mine Company, which engaged in mining alluvial gold on more than 27,000 hectares for more than 15 years, was within a week liquidated without fulfilling its environmental corporate responsibility.

Two Canadians, Mr Mike Carwood and Mr Douglas Mills, were the major shareholders and were Managing Director and Operations Manager of Bonte Gold Mining Company respectively.

Dr Yao Graham, Director of TWN, who addressed the media on the extent of damage done to the land and how the people were left without alternative livelihood described the non-performance of the regulatory bodies as institutional recklessness that smacked of collusion.

He said the Company, which started operation in 1989, was able to complete its liquidation process within a week, without following the due processes for mine decommissioning, giving notice to the workers, reclaiming the land and paying compensation to the land owners.