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01.06.2006 Business & Finance

Newmont/Gold Fields sign Ghana Responsible Mining Alliance

By GNA

Accra, May 24, GNA - Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and Gold Fields Ghana Limited have signed an agreement to usher in a new era of mining responsive to the needs of communities and intended to make mining operations effective.

The MOU was signed on Wednesday by Mr Bill Zisch, Vice-President Africa Operations of Newmont; Mr Allan Ashworth of Gold Fields Ghana and Ms Sharon Kromer of United States Agency for international Development (USAID), which is acting as an independent facilitator.

Tagged Ghana Responsible Mining Alliance, the MOU commits the two companies to ensure local capacity building for governance structures; provide economic opportunities for the indigenous private sector and promote best practice in mining in Ghana including areas of resettlement, compensation, reclamation, closure and security. The other areas of focus are human rights and community development.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, underscored the importance of the sector to national development saying, for the second year running earnings from mining overtook cocoa, representing 40 per cent of total export earnings.

The Mines Minister said mining raked in six billion dollars thus helping to cushion the impact of the high oil bill on the national purse.

Prof. Fobih repeated Government's resolve to maintain a level playing field for mining in the country and urged other mining companies to join the alliance to make their operations more humane and increasingly acceptable to their host communities.

Mr Zisch said Newmont's objective was to ensure that mining created value, not only for shareholders and the nation, "but for our communities, the people who are the neighbours of our operations.

"Our involvement with and commitment to this Alliance is consistent with our values, which are demanding leadership in safety, stewardship of the environment and social responsibility." He said Newmont would commit 5.5 million dollars and personnel over the next four years to the alliance with Gold Fields Ghana.

Mr Zisch said the Company was keen on bringing best practice onto the industry, especially what not to do. "Mining is a controversial business everywhere. However, it is undergoing a radical transformation that would be good for the business, but more for the people on whom it impacts," he said. Mr Ashworth in an interview said Gold Fields was committed to the Alliance and would work to ensure that mining was conducted in a sustainable fashion in their areas of operation. He recounted a number of social responsibility activities, notably the Gold Fields Foundation, already underway aimed at making the lives of host communities smoother and sustainable, despite the impact of mining activities.

Mrs Pamela Bridgewater, US Ambassador, who witnessed the signing, said Ghanaians among other things, expected to see a stronger and active civic unions engaging with local government and the private sector. They also expected the private sector to commit to the promotion of economic opportunities for people affected by mining and environmental stewards of the land, she said.

Gold Fields Ghana is the currently the largest gold digger in the country producing more than 900,000 ounces last year from its two mines at Damang and Tarkwa.

Newmont, the world's biggest gold producer, acquired Normandy Mining, which was operating in Ghana, three years ago and has so far invested 476 million dollars in its Ahafo Project, which is expected to pour its first gold in June. The Company has another concession in Akyem in the Eastern Region.

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