Communities living in the catchment area of Newmont Akyem project are surprised at government�s decision to issue a mining license to Newmont to begin its Akyem project when negotiations land owners had not been concluded.
According to the aggrieved land owners and members of the community, negotiations with the company over what compensation should be paid to them was inconclusive, with the two parties sharply divided over what one is entitled to?
Food crops and trees felled on the affected land would be paid for but the amount Newmont wants to pay is far below what the community is looking for. For every 441 teak trees felled, a farmer receives GH�11,355.75 as against GH�44,100 demanded by the community; for 63 mango trees, Newmont is proposing GH�811.44, whilst the community wants GH�6300.00.
The surface mining project would affect some forest reserves in the area, which is a watershed for some rivers in the area, which include Apetesu, Ahyirensua, Akwesiakwesi, Toawu and Akrasu.
The surface mining project was approved on the 19th January, 2010 with a lease number from government, authorizing Newmont to commence processes to actualize it. As a result of that, Newmont issued a directive on 29th January, putting an embargo on further development of buildings or structures on the land.
Some residents were told the military would come in to brutalize them if they ever tried to defy the order or to step on the demarcated land. This has given Newmont an upper hand, as fear has gripped the few courageous ones among them.
At a time there is much talk on climate change and the need to preserve forest reserves to save our climate and environment from further degradation, many are wondering the rationale behind the award of such a contract to a mining firm to practice surface mining that destroys the environment and forest reserves.
The forest reserves have served as a cover for the water sources and their destruction through surface mining is likely to have serious repercussions on the beneficiaries of the water bodies. In view of the continuous benefits the people would get from the farm produce to be destroyed, it is feared that poverty would soon become prevalent in the area.
The people�s anger with government stems from the fact that it failed to assess the situation thoroughly, thereby useless the concerns. They wonder how government could allow Newmont to begin the project prior to any concrete agreements on terms of compensation.
According to them, Newmont would now take advantage of the situation and impose their conditions on them since they have government�s approval. They are calling for a suspension of the license to allow for proper negotiation and agreement before they proceed.
Source: The Daily Democrat/Ghana
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