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30.09.2005 General News

Withdraw Mineral and Mining Bill - Panellists

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Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - Panellists at a two-day workshop on the Mineral and Mining Bill currently before Parliament have called for its withdrawal to allow broader consultation especially at the constituency level.

They said the Bill ought to be delayed mainly because critical issues on environmental sustainability, human rights and community livelihoods were sidelined.

The panellists from civil society groups, such as National Coalition on Mining and the Third World Network-Africa (TWN) that organised the workshop for journalists on Thursday, said within the pluralist discussion and reporting about the mining sector there was the need to add some truth about the impact of mining on society. Speaking on environmental and community livelihood issues in the Bill, Mr Abdulai Darimani of the TWN said the operating standards and regulatory powers the law was to provide and the level of sanctions to impose on environmental issues were questionable. He said there were no particular references to offences within the Bill except that it referred to the Environmental Agency Act 94. Mr Kyeretwie Opoku, a Member of Coalition on Mining, said the real problem of the economics of mining was that there was the tendency to make "noise" about mineral royalties, taxes and revenues, which could not actually be compared to the devastating effects mining had on communities and environment. He said there is no specific provision made on human rights in the Bill, adding that compensations needed to be paid to affected communities.

Miss Lindlyn Amang Tamafor, Environmental Coordinator of TWN, said mining had adverse effects on human health within the mining community. Miss Tamafor argued that there should be a law on environmental practices in the mining sector, saying that the law establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, which was the only in this context was very weak.