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11.01.2005 Business & Finance

Newmont Addresses Concerns Of Ahafo Communities

By Larry-Alans Dogbey(Network Herald)

Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd (NGGL) the world's largest mining company has revised its resettlement housing package for the Ahafo concession in the Brong Ahafo Region.

This development which has been accepted by the affected people in the concession area comes some few weeks after concerns were raised about the houses at a public meeting. Concerns were raised about the sizes of the rooms, which were said to be “unacceptably small”.

This was despite the fact that the Resettlement Negotiation Committee which includes their representatives, some governmental agencies such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Land Evaluation Board, District and Regional Town and Country Planning Agency and the officials of Newmont had agreed to the proposed room sizes during the negotiation process.

Newmont has revised the package making all bed room sizes 120 square feet. Previously, in accordance with Ghanaian building regulations, only the master bedroom was 120 square feet with the rest of the bedrooms being 90 square feet. Implementation of the revised package means a partial demolition and remodeling of several houses in the project area.

The new building plans were formally accepted by the Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC) on November 30, 2004 and endorsed by the Chiefs and Council of Elders, Assemblymen, Youth Association executives of Kenyasi 1 & 2, Ntrotroso, Gyedu and Wamahinso on December 4 2004.

The RNC then discussed the new proposals with the people they represent and communicated their endorsement back to the committee on December 9 2004. The General Manager of Newmont Ahafo project, Dave Ingle expressed Newmont's continued commitment to working in a collaborative manner with communities in the project area. “I am very pleased that we can continue to count on our consultative process to develop this project for mutual benefit,” he said.

The cost of implementing the changes to the resettlement package has been estimated to be slightly less than 7 billion cedis. This amount, which is additional cost to the existing Relocation/Resettlement housing budget of 110 billion cedis is considered by the company as a worthy investment in the lives of the people of the concession areas. A member of the Ahafo community said “the latest development is a demonstration of Newmont's respect for the community and we feel encouraged by it.” The Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC) has been deliberating for 8 months over issues concerning buildings for persons who are being resettled as a result of mining operations of Newmont. Each community and local Government agencies in the concession area have been represented in this committee. The company said it will continue to support the RNC members to communicate collective decisions made through the wider community stakeholders. The full resettlement package includes the provision of houses, individual KVIPs for each house as well as public amenities such as water, electricity and new schools.

A livelihood survey conducted by OICI International last year is also providing the basis for the development of a community development programme. A community development committee consisting of some Ahafo community representatives and governmental agencies is currently working together to agree on this plan for it to be implemented.

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