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14.10.2005 General News

Prestea citizens vow to stop BGL unless...

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Accra, Oct. 14, GNA - The Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea on Friday said it would use all available means to prevent Bogoso Gold Limited from resuming its surface mining operations in the centre of the town unless the company took steps to resettle the people of the community.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Kwesi Blay Secretary to the Association said the Environmental Protection Agency's order to BGL to suspend its mining activities in the centre town did not in anyway address the concerns of the people of the community.

The EPA on September 13 requested the suspension of mining in the Prestea township until some outstanding mitigation measures were completed. These are relocation of the Prestea Police Station built by the company, erection of a fence around the pit, construction of a by-pass road to divert traffic and the closure of the existing road and sensitisation of the communities and vendors adjacent to the pit. But Mr Blay said these measures fell short of community's demands for resettlement because of the current negative impact of BGL's mining activities on the environment and the threat that it posed to the lives of the people.

"We are not stopping BGL from their mining operations in Ghana. All we are asking is resettlement to save people's lives from pollution and blasting," he said.

Mr Blay, who is in Accra to attend a two-day conference on the Mining Bill, said information he had received from Prestea indicated that the Police were parking from the police station claiming that this was a sign that BGL would soon re-start operations in the town. "The people of the community will use all legitimate means to stop BGL even if it means taking over the pits and administration blocks to prevent the workers from carrying out their jobs."

Mr Blay said although confrontation was not the best way to address their concerns, there was no other alternative since BGL had refused to dialogue on the issue.

He said the Association had already presented a resolution to the EPA on the community's resolve for resettlement or relocation or the surface mining activities of BGL be stopped completely.

Meanwhile, representatives of communities affected by Mining at a two-day national conference on the Mining Bill concluded that the Bill was severely flawed in terms of adequate framework for criteria for compensation, valuation of property and access to justice, among others. In a resolution read on their behalf by Richard Ellimah they said consultation on the bill did not go far enough since communities, which were mostly affected were not contacted for their views on the process. "We are concerned with the undemocratic and unaccountable approach to the revision of the bill and also the limited space offered to citizens in the policy making process," they said.

In this connection, they asked Parliament to carry out further consultation with various stakeholders, especially communities affected by mining, and called for the development of a national mining policy.

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