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26.08.2005 Regional News

Mpohor Small-Scale Miners denounce attempts to stall their operations

GNA

Mpohor (W/R), Aug. 26, GNA - Tension is gradually brewing between the Mpohor Small Scale Miners Association in the Mpohor Wassa East District and St. Jude Mineral Resources, over alleged attempts to stall the operations of the small scale miners.

The association has therefore, appealed to the Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines to, as a mater of urgency to intervene in the impasse to maintain peace and harmony.

A statement issued at a press conference at Mpohor on Thursday, and signed by Mr Mark Cudjoe, spokesman for the Small Scale Miners accused some chiefs in the area of collaborating with St. Jude Mineral Resource to eject them from the area to render them jobless. The Association said it acquired a license to do small-scale mining but since the license expired in 1999 all efforts to renew it had been thwarted, citing politics as being part of the problem to stall their operations.

In 2000, security personnel seized and confiscated members' machinery and equipment but the members reorganised in 2004 and had since been working to get a license but without success.

All this while, the Association said St. Jude Mineral Resources, which claimed 80 per cent of the concession on which the Association operated, encouraged them to go on with their activities, Mr Cudjoe said. "Since then we have co-existed without the problems, therefore, we do not understand why out of the blue St. Jude Mineral Resources has asked the Regional Security Council to eject us without prior notice".

Mr Cudjoe said three oil palm companies that took over almost all their lands with the promise to offer employment to the youth could offer only about one per cent employment to the youth, while the rest remained jobless.

He however said, since they began operating in the area, small-scale mining had become the source of livelihood for many people and their families.

Mr Cudjoe said there are more than 800 small-scale miners in the area, who employ not less than five people on the average, and further disclosed that, this had helped to reduce social vices, while m any people can now afford to send their children to school. "In the circumstance, we are appealing to the Western Regional Minister to take pains to consider carefully the issues at stake before taking a decision on the call to eject us".

He accused St. Jude Mineral Resources, which had been prospecting for gold for more than 10 years of not keeping faith with the people of the area. "After prospecting in the area for more than 10 years now, St. Jude's operations are not different from the ordinary small-scale miners" he charged. Mr Cudjoe said the company continued to destroy our food crop farms with impunity, and degrade our environment without contributing to the development of the area, he added.

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