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13.06.2005 Business & Finance

Expedite action on mining companies -CHRAJ told

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Obuasi, June 13, GNA - The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has been urged to expedite action on its investigations into allegations of human rights abuses of mining communities by some mining companies in the country. The call was contained in a resolution adopted by participants at a three-day workshop on strengthening the capacity of mining communities at Obuasi.

The workshop organised by the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and sponsored by DKA, an Austrian Catholic charity organisation was attended by over 40 participants drawn from mining communities in Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Western regions. "We condemn in no uncertain terms, the use of guard dogs on suspects that are arrested for trespassing on mining concessions", the resolution said, adding, "Since the introduction of such lawless acts on communities, other multinational companies operating in the country are copying the practice".

The resolution questioned the legality of the existence of private cells by some mining companies, "such as AngoGold Ashanti," especially when there had been allegations of brutalities against suspects in such private cells of mining companies. The participants expressed grave concern about the payment of low compensation by mining companies when their operations affected crops and buildings of poor mining communities. "We identified poverty and illiteracy as factors that expose mining communities to manipulations, which results in payment of very low compensations to affected farmers".

The resolution specifically expressed dissatisfaction with the low compensation paid by Newmont Ghana Limited to farmers affected by its Ahafo Mine and equally blamed AngloGold Ashanti for paying very low compensations to farmers and in some cases no compensation at all for destroyed properties. On environmental degradation, the resolution expressed 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 pollution of river San and Fena and many others, which have deprived communities like Hia, Dokyiwa and Akatakyieso of their sources of drinking water".

The participants further complained about cyanide spillages into streams from tailings impoundments of AngloGold Ashanti at Dokyiwa and the discharge of cyanide and heavy metal contaminants into abandoned pits at Binsere.

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