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Chamber of Mines Welcomes EPA Ratings   
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The Ghana Chamber of Mines has commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its 2010 AKOBEN audit results aimed at bringing environmental improvement and reducing risk of mining operations to the public.

“The Ghana Chamber of Mines commends the EPA and looks forward to working effectively with it and other partners on improving the understanding and functioning of the AKOBEN system in order to improve the ratings of our members,” Dr. Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, told B&FT in Accra.

“The Chamber also takes the opportunity to congratulate mining companies who achieved appreciable improvement in this year’s AKOBEN audit, and hopes that the next ratings see a continuation in the performance improvements. We will continue to use the AKOBEN and other evaluation processes to continuously improve our environmental and social performance.

“The 2010 AKOBEN ratings saw an appreciable improvement over that of previous ratings. More member-companies made significant improvements on their performances in the last audit,” he said.

The report, ‘AKOBEN’, is an EPA initiative aimed at reducing the impact of industry on the environment and to bring about environmental improvements in business operations of all sizes. It is also meant to encourage companies assess themselves so they can reduce environmental risks of their operations to the public.

The other indicators in the report are environmental best practice, community complaints and corporate social responsibility.

Under the initiative, compliance with environmental standards by mining and manufacturing concerns is assessed using a five-colour rating scheme measuring the environmental performance of 61 manufacturing and mining companies on the legal requirements in hazardous waste management, toxic releases and non-toxic releases, and monitoring and reporting.

The AKOBEN ratings are evaluated by analysing more than one hundred performance indicators which include quantitative data as well as qualitative and visual information. Newmont Ghana Gold Limited joined Abosso Goldfields Limited and Ferro Fabrik Limited as the only three to be rated BLUE (Good) in the rankings.

Newmont’s rating is a huge improvement over last year’s, when it found itself in the RED zone. This was as a result of the over-flow of process-water at the company’s Ahafo Mine. Other companies with improved performance included Ghana Manganese Company, Golden Star Resources-Wassa, and Chirano Gold Mines Limited.

Daniel Amlalo, Acting Executive Director of the EPA, threatened to revoke the operating licence or impose heavy financial fines on Ghana Bauxite Company-Awaso for “consistently’’ failing to adhere to best environmental performance practices.

Ghana Bauxite Company was for the second time rated ‘poor’ in the latest environmental performance rating and disclosure system. Other mining companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Golden Star Resources-Bogoso, and Prestea Sankofa Gold Limited also scored ‘poor’ in the ratings.

“These companies did not include environmental reports in their annual reports. Nothing was known of their environmental policies. They again failed to report on how their operations affected the use of water and waste-management, their energy use and the effects of their operations on climate change. Companies do not regard the environment as a material business risk,”

Apart from AngloGold which scored RED in both its mines at Obuasi and Iduapriem, the Ghana Bauxite Company was also rated RED, ‘poor’. In the manufacturing industry, Accra Brewery Limited and Akosombo Textiles were in the ORANGE (Satisfactory) zone, while Aluworks, Unilever Ghana Limited-Tema Factory and Accra Abattoir were rated RED.

The EPA also announced that it will increase from 50 to 100 the number of manufacturing companies that will be assessed in next year’s report, while the mining companies will increase from 11 to 19.

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