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05.06.2005 General News

Govt urged to close down private cells

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Accra, June 5, GNA - Participants at a workshop organised for representatives of communities affected by mining on Sunday called upon the Government to order the immediate closer of private cells operated by AngloGold Ashanti and other mining companies.

"We question the legality of the existence of private cells by some mining companies such as AngloGold Ashanti, especially when there had been allegations of brutalities against suspects in such private cells of mining companies."

In a resolution passed at the end of the three-day workshop organised by the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and DKA, a Catholic Charity Organisation in Austria, the participants drawn from communities where AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont Ghana Limited operated, "condemned in no uncertain terms the use of guard dogs on suspects that are arrested for trespassing on mining concessions.

"Since the introduction of such lawless acts on mining communities, other multi-national companies operating in the country are also copying the practice".

They called on the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice to expedite investigations into allegations of human rights abuses by mining companies against communities affected by mining. The participants expressed grave disappointment about the attitude of AngloGold Ashanti in respect of a dialogue process it initiated with WACAM, which showed the Company's insensitivity to the plight of affected communities in Obuasi.

"We express deep concern about the effects of the mining operations of AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont Ghana Limited on water bodies and rivers. We wish to draw attention to the pollution of rivers San and Fena and many others that had deprived communities like Hia, Akatakyieso, Kwabrafoso and Dokyiwa of their sources of drinking water." The participants said: "The dam created on river Jimi has brought untold hardships to the people of Jimiso including increased number of mosquitoes and the threats that reptiles like snakes and crocodiles pose to the people of Jimiso.

"We are concerned about cyanide spillage into streams from tailings impoundments of AngloGold Ashanti in Dokyiwa and the discharge of cyanide and heavy metal contaminants into abandoned pits at Binsere," the resolution said.

The participants also expressed concern "about the mountains of waste dumps in Obuasi and surrounding areas like Sanso, created by the mining operations of AngloGold Ashanti. These pose great health hazards to the residents of Obuasi as evidenced by the increased skin and respiratory diseases in places like Kwabrafoso and Anyimadukrom. "We are unhappy about the abandoned pits of AngloGold Ashanti, which pose a threat to the lives of the of people living in Anyankyirem, Akatakyieso, Binsere and Adaase.

AngloGold has only protected these pits with bamboo fences. The resolution said: "Communities like Sansu, Odumasi, Akatakyieso and Nyieso have their buildings cracked because of surface mining activities of AngloGold Ashanti.

"Similarly the dam created on River Subri by Newmont Ghana Limited in Kenyasi (in the Brong Ahafo Region) has deprived some communities of their sources of drinking water and the Company is insensitive to the plight of the communities."

The participants expressed dissatisfaction with the low compensation paid by mining companies when their operations affected crops and buildings of poor mining communities.

"We express dissatisfaction with the low compensation paid by Newmont Ghana Limited to farmers affected by its Ahafo Mine and equally blame AngloGold Ashanti for paying very low compensations to farmers. "We condemn the extension of the moratorium on farming by Newmont Ghana Limited to cover areas in Kenyasi and its surroundings, which were not part of the original areas where farming activities were not to be undertaken.

"By our estimation, Newmont Ghana Limited is only using the extension of the moratorium to avoid payment of compensation to some affected farmers, the resolution said.

The participants expressed dissatisfaction with the resettlement of some communities in the Ahafo Mine of Newmont Ghana limited with respect to the reduction of the number of rooms of affected families. They also expressed concern that Rangold and Westchester Mines "are undertaking exploratory activities in communities and destroying communities' properties without prior discussions and payment of compensation. This has affected communities like Kwabena Kwah, Mile 14, Atia, Mile 15 and Mampamhwe.

The participants included Mr Ofosu Donkoh and Mr Joseph Ndah, Assembly Members of Kwabrafoso and Binsere, respectively. 5 June 05