Focus, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has urged communities within the Newmont Ahafo North Mine enclave in the Ahafo Region to cooperate with the company as it begins actual mining operations.
According to the NGO, which promotes community development, environmental sustainability and human rights within the Mine’s enclave, Newmont had already acquired the Ahafo North Mine’s concessional area, covering Afrisipakrom, Techie, Susuanso, Adrobaa and Yamfo in the Tano North Municipality from the government.
The NGO observed it would be in the interest of the Mine’s affected communities to negotiate with Newmont on compensation and other entitlement issues.
It said though Focus was always mindful of the negative impact of mining, with strong partnership and collaboration, affected communities could better manage negative impacts and maximise the positives.
Addressing a news conference at Susuanso, one of the communities within the Mine’s enclave, Victor Gyabaah, the Secretary, said Focus had the interest of the mining communities and would continue to push community development and asked the people “to come with open heart and mind to dialogue with Newmont and journey together on emerging issues to positively impact the communities.
“This is why we call on individuals, who are seeking a court injunction to restrain the mine from operating in the area, to as a matter of urgency withdraw the issue from the court as the court injunction has halted Newmont Mine’s project development in the Ahafo North Mine,” he said.
Mr Gyabaah regretted operations of the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF), a foundation set by the mine to push community development in 10-mine take communities, had also halted operations because of the impasse between the company and the communities, slowing down the development processes in the area.
“Now many of our qualified students cannot access the scholarship package of the foundation to continue with their education while infrastructural projects had also been stalled in the local communities,” he indicated.
Mr Gyabaah noted that the Newmont Ahafo Mine’s project served as an economic driver for the local economy, thereby attracting investors into the local economy, saying with Newmont’s investment of US$850 million into the Ahafo North Mine’s project, the five local communities would be opened up for economic prosperity.
Meanwhile, some of the resident farmers directly or indirectly affected by the Mine’s operations had condemned the practice of some of the people who had put up speculative structures in the Mine’s concessional enclave, just to obtain undue compensation.
They told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the practice had halted the payment of compensation to deserving farmers and asked those engaged in such speculative activities to be faithful to themselves and do the right thing to pave way for the company to pay them the compensation.
The residents expressed worry that since the company acquired the concession, they were unable to engage in any commercial farming and asked the company to facilitate payments of compensation to enable them to engage in other alternative livelihood activities to better their lives.
Mr Joseph Baffour Darkwah, a farmer and Adrobaa local President of Focus, told the GNA Newmont had so far paid US$22 million as crop compensation in the 10 mine-take communities since it started the Ahafo Mine operations.
“The company has also allocated more than US$20 million to be disbursed to the communities. But the current impasse between the people and the company has slowed down the disbursement process”.
“In fact, we have learnt a lot of lessons from other mining communities, and I believe the disbursement of these monies to the communities distinctively would better the livelihoods of our farmers and their dependents,” Mr Darkwah stated.
He, therefore, called on the people and community leaders to remain truthful with Newmont on matters relating to compensation so that affected farmers could obtain their share to ensure their socio-economic survival.