WESTERN Goldfields Limited, a defunct gold mining company in Takoradi in the Western Region, has exposed flaws in minerals and mining permits granted to all the thirty (30) mining companies operating in forest reserves in the country.
Whereas the state mining and mineral regulatory institutions have suspended the forest access permit granted to the Western Goldfields Limited to mine in the Bowiye Range Forest Reserve, the company has stressed that it was given the required forest access permit to do so.
According to the company, it was the first to obtain the requisite legal Forestry Commission and Minerals Commission permit, which enabled it to mine in the Bowiye Range Forest Reserve in 1989 before the ban was imposed on mining activities in all forest reserves in 1996.
The company asserted that the decision by the government through the state minerals and mining regulatory institutions to suspend the company not to enter the Bowiye Range Forest Reserve for mining activity is “illegal and unconstitutional.”
To this end, the company renewed it call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to set up a committee of enquiry to investigate the commercial activities of all the mining companies which are currently operating in the country’s forest reserves, stating that “they are operating illegally.”
“We are, therefore, calling for a thorough investigation into this matter and all the thirty (30) mining companies working in the forest reserves before the moratorium on mining activities in forest reserves in March 1996,” the company made the call in a letter to the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi.
The five-page letter, dated January 23, 2018 and signed by Managing Director of Western Goldfields Limited, Mr. Ralph Ananga, was copied to President Akufo-Addo, Chief of Staff at Flagstaff House, Chief Executive of Minerals Commission and Executive Director of Forestry Commission Service Department.
The letter further stressed the need for the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. John Peter Amewu, to instruct all the thirty mining companies operating in forest reserves to produce their forest access permits from the Chief Conservator of Forest Commission.
The letter pointed out that “these mining companies granted permits to undertake surface mining in forest reserves as stated by the former Technical Director in-charge of Mining at the Ministry of Lands and Resources, Mr. Simon Atebiya, as stated by the investigation conducted by Today newspaper are Goldfields Ghana Limited, Preseus Mining Company at Wasa Akropong and Anglo Gold Ashanti.
According to the letter, all these mining companies were not operating in the forest reserves before the moratorium in March 1996 and not in 1992 as claimed by Mr. Atebiya.
“The ban or moratorium was in March 1996 and not 1992. None of these mining companies were operating in any reserve in Ghana before the ban in March 1992. It is for this reasons that Mr. Atebiya, backdated it to the year 1992, so as to legitimise their operations.
This is to say they were operating in the forest reserves before the ban in March 1996,” the letter noted.
According to the letter, the claim by Mr. Atebiya that in 1992, thirty (30) mining companies applied for environmental permit licences to mine in forest reserves and that government trimmed the number to seventeen (17) is “completely false.” The letter punched a big hole into the statement by Mr. Atebiya that government had wanted to revoke the licences of these mining companies but because of the legal tussles and judgement payment, government could not afford.
According to the letter, this was untrue because the 30 mining companies were not granted permits to work in the reserves, thus no issue of judgment debt and legal tussles against the government since “they were there illegally.”
The letter further argued that the claims by “Mr. Simon Atebiya that there was no “clear-cut law or legal instrument that supports mining in forest reserves was also not true.
Minerals & Mining Matters
…with Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU