Communities in mining areas have resolved to use the Environmental Protection Agency public hearing platforms to make known their concerns about the operations of the extractive industry in the country instead of resorting to demonstrations.
At the EPA public hearing on the proposed Prestea South Mbease Nsuta project of Golden Star Resources, the communities in the Prestea Huni-Valley district, turned out in their numbers to ask questions and make contributions. They asked questions about past, present and future operations of the company.
The EPA forum brought together the mining community and the host communities in accordance with the country’s new mining law.
The law requires mining companies in the extractive sector to take advantage of the public hearing to enrich its environmental impact draft statement.
The company presented their proposed plan of operation and the possible impact and how to mitigate it.
Officials of Golden Star Bogoso Prestea Limited (GSBPL) of Golden Star Resources explained that the proposed Prestea South Mbease Nsuta project covered about 200 hectares.
They explained that in many instances, GSBPL had taken its time to engage with the communities and in instances where members of these communities were relocated,the youth from its operational areas were given skills that made them self employed.
The Deputy Director in charge of mining at the EPA, Mr Michael Ali Sandow, commended the people of the area for taking advantage of hearing not only what the company had to say but to also ask questions, get answers and make contributions to enrich the draft.
He explained to the community that before a company was granted a permit to start operation, there were several processes, including the public hearing that the company had to go through before being granted an environmental permit to operate.
“This forum gives you the community, chiefs, elders, the youth everybody the platform to voice your concerns which will be included in the report by the specialists and the company.
Mr Sandow said the geology of Prestea and Tarkwa had led to the high concentration of iron and manganese in the water.
As part of the measures, he said Golden Star and the assembly had to collaborate to ensure a proper purification system to make the water safe for the consumption of the people.
The Community Affairs and Public Relations Manager of the company, Mr Robert Gyamfi, explained the proposed Prestea South Mbease Nsuta project to the people.
He said the safety and the well-being of the people in the communities they operated was very important to the company, which he said had a track record of good neighbourliness in the communities they operated.
Mr Gyamfi explained that aside the compensation that was paid to the affected individuals; the company would employ 160 people to carry out the project.
Mr Alfred Ekow Gyan, Deputy Western Regional Minister, commended the chiefs and people of the community for making themselves available for the programme, which gave them the opportunity to present their case to the company.
He said it was important that under the new mining law, EPA was moving to ensure that these companies operated within the law to ensure social and industrial harmony.
Mr Gyan called for collaboration between the traditional rulers and district assembly in the creation of a database of skilled but unemployed people in their communities.
Members of the community expressed displeasure at the conduct of the Member of Parliament for the area, Mr Kwesi Blay, who organised the youth to protest and prevent other people from attending the programme to make their contribution.
Source: Graphic Business
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