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14.11.2005 Business & Finance

Ministry, Newmont to regulate galamsey operators

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Accra, Nov. 14, GNA - Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, on Monday said the Ministry was taking the initiative by designing a programme that would mandate District Assemblies to pay particular attention to mining communities in the allocation of funds for developmental projects.

He expressed regret over what he called the unfair treatment of mining communities by the Assemblies, saying that even though portions of the huge royalties from mining operations were paid to them yet they did not attend to the needs of the communities, which needed special attention.

Prof Fobih said the Ministry was also in collaboration with Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, to develop a strategic programme to train, register, accommodate and regulate the activities of small-scale (galamsey) operators in the communities where Newmont operated.

"Even though galamsey operators are a nuisance to legally mandated mining companies like Newmont, it would be in the interest of Newmont and other mining companies to register and regulate their activities in order to win the confidence of the residents of the mining communities," he said.

The Minister made the remark when the visiting Chairman and Chief Executive of Newmont Mining Corporation, the mother-company of Newmont Ghana, Mr Wayne Murdy paid a courtesy call on him.

The visit was part of Mr Murdy's five-day working visit to Ghana to familiarize himself with the two separate projects worth over 950 million dollars that the Company was undertaking in Kenyase in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Akyem in the Eastern Region.

Prof. Fobih noted that instead of wishing away the galamsey operators, it would be helpful for the image and operations of the mining companies if they trained some of them and offered them jobs in their companies.

He acknowledged that the mining companies could not train and employ all galamsey operators, saying that training some of them and registering them for special assignments would go a long way to reduce their numbers.

The Minister also urged the Company to be conscious of its community responsibility, which was imperative to their image in the communities.

"Residents of mining communities suffer most from operations of mining companies and while Government understands the economic benefit of such operations it is important that the mining companies contribute to the development of the communities they operate in to make the people accept them as part of the community," he said.

Prof. Fobih asked Newmont to be mindful of environment issues regarding their operations saying that international non-governmental organisation (NGOs) were watching and could create a bad image for the Company if they failed in the responsibility to the environment. He said the Ministry and its agencies would continue to guide and assist them in addressing social and environment issues as long as they operated in Ghana to ensure that they maintained a fruitful relationship with the Government, the communities and with the international NGOs. Mr Murdy gave the assurance that Newmont was ready to collaborate with all concerned groups to formulate a model that suited all parties to ensure a proper placement of the galamsey operators in the scheme of things.

He said already the Company had employed about 3,700 people with six more being trained for six weeks for unskilled jobs, a few more being trained for four years for skilled jobs like mechanics, electrical and others also being trained for technical and professional jobs. Mr Murdy said so far the Company had invested 450 million dollars in it Kenyase Project and was investing another 500 million dollars in the Akyem Project and that about three quarters of the money was in facilities, equipment and infrastructure and the remaining quarter went into activities like training and payment of resettlement compensations. "So far we have spent 28 million dollars in the payment of compensations in the Kenyase area and another 13 million dollars to farmers in the Akyem area," he said.

He said in choosing Ghana as a mining location, Newmont identified skilled people in the industry, an ideal geological location and a positive political will, adding that the swift provision of power by the Volta River Authority to Newmont was a unique gesture. With him were, Mr. William M. Zisch, Managing Director of the Company's African Operation, Mrs Dorothy Gyamfi, Manager of Legal and Government Operations and Ms Mawuena Dumor, Director of Communication, Newmont. 14 Nov. 05

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