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02.11.2005 General News

Calls for ban on surface mining in Prestea

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Accra, Nov. 2, GNA - The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) has called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to live up to its responsibility to the sovereign people of Prestea and Himan and to re-impose the ban it placed on the surface mining operations of Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) in Prestea.

In a statement signed by Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of the Association, said: "The news that Environmental Protection Agency had asked the Bogoso Gold Limited (a subsidiary of Golden Star Resource of Canada) to start its mining operations in Prestea had come as a shock to WACCAM and the communities affected by BGL's operations. It said: "We are aware of an ongoing discussions between EPA officials and the people of Prestea on the concerns of the communities regarding the operations of BGL.

It said at various meetings the community had restated its demand for resettlement before BGL carried out its surface mining operations in Prestea and Himan.

WACAM said: "The problems between Prestea and Himan communities and BGL have resulted from the fact that EPA had ignored the concerns the communities raised against the mining operations of BGL in Prestea at the very onset of the project. The conflict that had resulted had been very expensive to the Company, communities and the nation.

WACAM said it was disturbed that EPA was repeating the same mistake of ignoring the concerns of the communities and the company might have to use brute force on the people of Prestea and Himan.

It said at the meeting held between the Prestea communities and the officials of EPA on October 19 2005 the communities re-affirmed their position to give way for BGL to mine only if they were resettled and which they promised to convey to BGL for a feedback.

It has become apparent that the EPA did not give consideration to the concerns of Prestea and Himan communities in revoking the suspension order it issued to BGL.

The Association expressed concern about the conflicts in many mining communities resulting from the insensitivity to problems visited on mining communities and the apparent tendency of the regulatory agencies to lean towards the mining companies It said the Prestea case should present a useful lesson to Parliament when it came to discuss the new Mining Bill.

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