Newmont Ghana Limited has stated that it is prepared to pay compensation for the Ahafo Mine Process Solution overflow accident which occurred on October 8, 2009.
A statement from the mining company said Newmont “is prepared to finalise compensation for the overflow and has already implemented a number of corrective measures to prevent any future process solution releases”.
This followed recommendations made by the ministerial panel appointed by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to evaluate the accident that the mining company should be compelled to pay compensation.
According to the recommendations, the GH˘7 million compensation would go to the affected communities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Inspectorate Division of the Mineral Commission.
The Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, confirmed to the Daily Graphic that the ministerial panel had indeed, recommended the payment of that quantum of compensation by Newmont.
In its statement, Newmont said in recognition of the impact of the overflow, Newmont made initial compensation proposals to the ministerial panel.
“While the report of the panel recognized that there was no regulatory framework by which to assess compensation or penalties relating to such accidents, it recommended that substantial compensation be paid and Newmont Ghana has stated its intention to meet compensation obligations once the process is complete,” the statement said.
Quoting the Senior Vice-President for African Operations, the statement said Newmont “accepts responsibility for any failure to meet its standards and we reiterate our regret and apologies for the overflow and for any anxiety caused in the local community over the safety of their drinking water supplies and fish”.
According to the statement, since the time of the overflow, water sampling had continued to confirm that there was no threat from cyanide to human health or residual environmental impact.
The statement also indicated that Newmont was reviewing the report which stated, among other things, that the primary causes of the accidental releases included operational supervision failures and some systems and mechanical failures.
“The report also provides recommendations, which are focused on strengthening risk awareness, incident classification and notification criteria, and enhancing capacity to recognize and respond to emergency situations,” it said.
It added that Newmont had rigorously reviewed and modified its control systems and monitoring procedures, with the participation of regulatory agencies, to ensure that such accidents did not happen in future.
It said the failure to immediately notify government regulators of the overflow was not an indication of a possible ‘cover-up’, as had been suggested in some quarters.
According to the statement, internal communications and assessment failures, along with the operational supervision lapses, resulted in the regulatory agencies not being immediately notified and which might have inadvertently created an appearance of an alleged ‘cover-up’.
Source: Daily Graphic /Ghana
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