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19.12.2005 Regional News

Mining activities impacting negatively on communities - Participants

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Obuasi, Dec.19, GNA - Participants at a workshop organised by the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) at Obuasi have expressed concern about the negative effects mining activities by AngloGold Ashanti had impacted on their communities. They enumerated the destruction of farmlands, food crops, water and air pollution and payments of meagre compensations as some of the numerous problems from the mining activities.

The over 40 participants, drawn from mining communities within and around the Obuasi Municipality, expressed worry about the danger posed by uncovered ponds created from surface mining to human lives. The three-day workshop was aimed at using the right approach to strengthen the capacities of mining communities to fight for their rights from abuses by mining companies. Among the topics discussed were community concerns under surface mining, addressing community concerns, democracy and mining communities, building an organizational culture and the mining advocacy in Obuasi - the way forward.

Giving the general overview of mining situation in the country, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM noted that the benefits the country had derived from mining over the years were scanty as compared with the attendant problems on mining communities. Mr Owusu-Koranteng said due to weak legal framework governing mining activities, mining companies were not held responsible for whatever they did to abuse the rights of mining communities. "There are gross human rights violations perpetrated by mining companies against mining communities," He said. The Executive Director said the mining companies had succeeded in conditioning the minds of the communities that they could not fight for their rights.

Mrs Hanna Owusu-Koranteng, Director of Training and Research of WACAM, said there was the need for the country's natural resources to be protected. She said the rate at which mining activities were destroying rivers and streams would lead to a major water problem in the country in future if steps were not taken to stem the tide.