Global large-scale mining company, Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL), has flatly denied the claim that its blasting activities in Brahabobom, Western Region, were being carried out on the blind side of the regulatory agencies within the extractive space.
Reacting to a publication by Today newspaper with the headline: “Danger Looms In Tarkwa-Brahabobom…Over Blasts Of Mine Rocks By GFGL,” (on Monday, January 27, 2020), in an interview the Vice President and Head of Gold Fields West Africa, Francis Eduku, said that his outfit’s blasting activities, since May 2019, have been monitored by a 15-member Joint Blast Monitoring Committee (JBMC) set up by the Municipal Security Council (MUSEC).
The reason for JBMC, he explained, followed persistent complaints by the Brahabobom Landlords Association.
According to him, JBMC comprise officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), MUSEC and representatives of the Association, who, he disclosed, recently withdrew from the JBMC.
“So far, all blasting activities monitored by the JBMC have recorded no exceedances,” he categorically affirmed.
Mr Eduku went on to disclose that four random unannounced monitoring by JBMC to ascertain claims by the Brahabobom Landlords Association that GFGL’s weekend blasting activities were not compliant with regulatory standards showed no exceedances.
“As a global large-scale mining company, our operations are subject to strict regulatory and statutory monitoring regime by the EPA, Minerals Commission, Water Resources Commission and other regulatory agencies,” he averred.
He told Today that his company, in addition to strictly complying with the Minerals Commission blasting standards, has also introduced a number of measures to further reduce the impact of blasting on Brahabobom community.
These, he said, included submission of blast monitoring results as part of its monthly report to the EPA, a community participatory blast-monitoring regime in place since December 2014, and trained six (6) community members to monitor all blasts carried out by GFGL.
In the case of the trained community members, he revealed that three of them observe and record blast results, adding that “Our blasting performance has improved consistently since 2015.”
The mine has equally introduced electronic blasting all in an effort to reduce the impact of blasting on Brahabobom community, he said.
Other interventions adopted, he revealed, include the use of air bags, increased stemming heights, reduction in the number of blast holes, reduction in blast hole diameters, as well as delayed blasting.
“The mine has also established a buffer zone between the pit and the community by growing several hectares of rubber plantation to prevent encroachment,” he said.
Mr Eduku intimated that in line with his company’s vision to mine responsibly, “we do not only comply with regulations, we care deeply about the communities that have graciously hosted our operations over the past 26 years, and we take their concerns seriously.”
In line with their Society and Community Charter, he said GFGL always engages stakeholders in a “transparent, honest and respectful manner.”
“As such, we have maintained a very good and cordial relationship with all our host communities, including the Brahabobom community in Tarkwa. As part of our responsive complaints and grievance resolution system, we have extensively engaged all stakeholders including chiefs, elders and opinion leaders of the Brahabobom community, as well as the Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Municipal Security Council (MUSEC) of the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Assembly (TNMA) and the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT),” said Mr Eduku.
According to him, his company together with the above stakeholders have been working on an agreed road map to resolve the Brahabobom Landlords Association’s (complaints about the impact of the mine’s blasting activities on the community.
Consequently, he said that upon the advice of the Minerals Commission, a 20-30-metre high noise bund was constructed along the crest of the Atuabo-Mantraim pit in 2013 to prevent visual intrusion and mitigate the risk of flying rocks on the community.
“As directed by the EPA, the mine also commissioned Geo-systems consulting firm to assess the conditions of buildings and structures in our operational areas. Contrary to the allegations in the news report, the assessment conducted in Brahabobom in 2015 did not establish that cracks in the buildings were caused by the mine’s blasting activities. As a good neighbour, GFGL repaired all cracked buildings in the community, which was supervised by the Chairman of the Association, Mr E. Brewu Armoo, and the Secretary, Mr Frank Minta,” Mr Eduku said.
Against this background, the vice president and head of HR, Goldfield West Africa, reiterated that his outfit was committed to working with all stakeholders to resolve the matter amicably for “our mutual benefit.”
“We assure all our stakeholders that, we will continue to operate within the provisions of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulation (L.I. 2177), and implement all measures required to reduce the impact of blasting to ensure the safety of members of the Brahabobom community,” he firmly assured.
Story: Ato KEELSON
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