Public hearing on Newmont's Ahafo proposed expansion project
Kenyase (B/A), May 7, GNA - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday held a 'Public Hearing' on the proposed Ahafo Mining and Processing Expansion Project by Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) at Kenyase in the Asutifi North District of the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The objective was a follow-up to a first public hearing on the scope and environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of the project presented to stakeholders under the auspices of EPA on May 9, 2013.
It would be recalled that the EPA not satisfied with the report at that time, directed the NGGL to return and prepare it better in the interest of the people for re-submission.
That second public hearing therefore was for EPA to present a new EIA draft report to stakeholders and the general public for them to know the social and economic impact of the project, on especially, the affected communities.
The hearing also enabled the Company to explain to the people structures it had put in place to address issues like water, dust, noise and general environmental pollution,that would result from its operations with the start of the project.
Mr. Tommie Van Der Walt, Newmont's Project Study Director for the Public Hearing, indicated that the project on its commencement, would increase Newmont Ahafo Mine's annual production to around 400,000-500,000 ounces.
Mr. Walt said that would help the Company to deliver more shared value through their royalties and tax contributions to the country, but more importantly the Company's direct voluntary support of one dollar per ounce and one percent of their net profit going to the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF).
'By increasing the processing capacity at Ahafo, it is possible to produce more gold at lower cost. Without the expansion project, production will dwindle, further limiting the mine life of 12 years', he stressed.
Mr. Walt disclosed 'completing the project has a potential of increasing mill capacity from 7.5 million tonnes per annum to 12 million tonnes per annum, extending the life of Ahafo Mine to 2028'.
He emphasized 'the expansion project lowers economic cut-off grade of the resource, converting more mineralised material into ore and unlock potential growth'.
Mr. Walt implied that in the long-term the project would sustain the Ahafo Mine to provide more benefits and opportunities for all, regarding among others, employment for skilled and unskilled labour, direct payments of taxes and royalties.
At a forum some residents in some of the affected communities like Manu Shed and Damso complained of negative health effects by the Company's operations, because of noise, water and dust pollution, and therefore called on Newmont to re-locate them as a matter of urgency.
The three paramount chiefs in the Asutifi North District, Nana Osei Kofi Abiri, Kenyase Number One, Odeneho Dadeeako Kwabena Nsiah Ababio, Kenyase Number Two, and Barima Twireku Ampem the Third, Ntotroso , lauded the potential social and economic benefits of the proposed expansion Project.
They, however, urged Management of the Company to take steps to address the various concerns of of the people, to ensure a smooth take-off of the project in August this year.