Accra, Nov. 1, GNA - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday lifted, with immediate effect, the ban it placed on the operations of Bogoso Gold Limited after the assessment of their compliance level but the people say they would not accept anything less than the resettlement of the entire community.
The EPA, however, said it lifted the conditions that led to the ban "must be continuously met by the Company and failure of which a permanent ban will be placed on the area and the company will be called to restore the area to its pre-mining conditions."
A statement issued by the Public Affairs Department of EPA and signed by Mr William Abaidoo urged Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) to strictly revise its blasting procedures by restricting the number of blast holes to between 50 and 100, maintaining blast hole length of eight metres subsequently charge per hole.
BGL is to invite officials of Mines Department to supervise every initial blast for a period to be determined by the EPA and further invite EPA District Officers to observe each blast. The Company is also to commence as soon as possible the construction of the senior police officers' residence and complete them before the end of the plant north project.
Other conditions to be met by BGL include the need for the Company to work out mechanism to repair damage caused to buildings as a result of blast induced vibrations and payment for damaged household and other equipment of genuine claimant as soon as possible.
"BGL must continue discussion with the community and complete the construction of drains along the sides of the by-pass road". The EPA urged the Company to continue with social commitments to the community and provide a schedule of implementation to the Agency as soon as possible.
Bogoso Gold Limited was permitted in 2003 to mine gold bearing materials from Plant North area, Prestea and process gold at its existing processing plant at Bogoso.
The statement said the environmental permit was issued based on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted in September 2002. The Company completed mining within the two areas and commenced operations in the southern most end of the pit without completing its commitments as per EIS
The EPA, therefore, on September 13, halted the mining operations at the areas until the Company complied with the provisions of the EIS. Mr Abaidoo in an interview said BGL was fulfilling the conditions that led to the ban and it was believed that the Company would comply with the regulations.
Mr Godfried Ofori, Chairman of the Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea, said the community would not accept anything less than the resettlement of the entire community. He said the best practice elsewhere was to ensure the safety of communities affected by mining but the EPA had relinquished its responsibility to the people.
Mr Ofori, who was speaking to the GNA in an interview, said, even though, BGL had not complied with the mitigating measures it enumerated in its own Environmental Impact Assessment, EPA allowed it to continue to carry out its mining operation until the community embarked on a number of protest actions before the EPA asked BGL to stop work. He said EPA should be held responsible for anything that might happen for lifting the ban on the operations of BGL in Prestea, which was posing a lot health hazards and destroying the property of the people.