Accra, Nov. 14, GNA - Below is the full text of a statement from Mawuena A. Dumor, Manager Communications, Newmont Ghana, on the killing of two farmers at New Abirem, in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
"The deaths of two persons and injuries to a number of other individuals during a clash recently between the police and a crowd in New Abirim near the site of Newmont Ghana's Akyem Project in the Birim North District of the Eastern Region. Were most regrettable. Newmont Ghana is deeply concerned about these recent events and expresses its condolences over the loss of lives.
"On the morning of 2nd November 2005. A group of youth from the town mounted road blocks on the main Oda - Nkawkaw road to prevent staff of Newmont Ghana from entering and exiting the camp site in Yaayaaso. As the crowd grew in number and signs of disruption in public peace became evident, the company notified the district police headquarters at Ofoase of the growing tension. Upon the arrival of the police. It is reported that some of the youth attempted to disarm and attack the police which resulted in a confrontation
"The press statement issued by the Wassa Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) through the GNA on November 8th 2005 is inaccurate in claiming that the police "acted on behalf of Newmont" insinuating that Newmont instructed the police how to respond to the situation. It should be specified that there was a threat to life and property in relation to Newmont arising from the conduct of the crowd. Newmont was therefore compelled to notify the police in order that peace could be restored in a timely fashion. Newmont did not in any way instruct the police on how they should handle the situation
"The claim made by WACAM that Newmont is taking advantage of the "low capacity" of poor communities in its project area is false. In the experience of Newmont, the members of these communities are well aware of their interest and rights. Additionally, there has been community education about compensation, including a workshop facilitated by the Land Economy Department of the KNUST, during which frank exchanges took place between Newmont and community representatives, and the basis used for the payment fully explained.
"It is the company's understanding that the disturbances arose from some farmers' dissatisfaction with the methodology regarding calculation of crop compensation rates being offered by Newmont for the year. Newmont believes that the current rates being paid as compensation are competitive in the industry and one of the best in the country. The method of compensation proposed for use in the current circumstances are not innovations by Newmont but are the accepted methods for computing compensation due for farm crops nation-wide. In any event, since the negotiation process is still ongoing, at this stage, there is no case of an imposition in relation to the approaches proposed for crop compensation when the project is yet to be fully approved. Newmont would also like to emphasize that there is no mine project construction taking place at Akyem in that regard as was claimed in the WACAM statement.
"The compensation rates are reviewed every year by a committee made up of independently elected representatives from the communities and the company and is observed by officials of various regulatory agencies and other institutions including the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, National Commission for Civic Education and the Land Valuation Board. The committee is chaired independent of the company and the results of these meetings have always been made public.
"Newmont Ghana regrets the occurrence of this incident at a time the company is making every effort to build and maintain cordial relationships with the communities. The company deeply regrets the loss of lives and injuries that have occurred as a result of this fracas.
"While these events are very unfortunate, it deepens the commitment that Newmont has to build and maintain collaborative relationships with all communities in its areas of operation. The company has collaborated with internationally recognized organizations including the International Finance Corporation on a public disclosure and consultative approach for its Ahafo Project to manage activities. Documentation on its Environmental Impact Statement, Resettlement Action Plans and Public Disclosure Plans are available to the public. International standards in these areas are being applied and the company will be applying a similar approach to the Akyem project if it is approved.
"Newmont will continue to strive for dialogue in resolving any issues that may arise from its operations and assures any persons that may have issues with the company of its readiness to address their concerns. Newmont wishes to encourage recourse to lawful processes in pursuing any claims that any persons may have against the company and reaffirms its own commitment to respect the laws of the land in every aspect of its activities in Ghana" (End text).