Newmont Ghana Gold says the over 3,000 fishes died from natural causes

Mr. Paul Sowley, General Manager, Environment and Social Responsibility of Newmont Ahafo mine at Kenyasi, has said there was no way cyanide or other dangerous chemical could spill over into the company’s Water Storage Facility (WSF) or any nearby stream in the mine take area.

He said the well being of residents who are directly or indirectly affected by the operation of the mine was guaranteed.

Mr. Sowley said this when the company organised a field trip at its plant site at Kenyasi Number Two for some media  practitioners from Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.

The trip was necessitated by the recent discovery of dead fishes in the company’s WSF and to also get the media abreast with measures put in place by the mine to avert the possibility of cyanide pollution in the company’s water dams and other water bodies in the area.

On Saturday December 31, 2011 the company discovered more than 3,000 dead fishes in the storage facility which generated a heated debate in the national media. The cause of the dead fishes is not yet known.

Preliminary study conducted by the mining company revealed that the fishes died through natural causes.

Mr. Sowley who briefed the media on the study mentioned overpopulation of fishes, feacal contamination as well as rapid decay of the vegetative cover around the facility as a result of the harmmatan which depleted the oxygen level and the lack of rainfall to dilute dam as the main causes of the deaths.

Mr. Sowley said it was not true that the fishes died in the Subri River and explained that the WSF is a reservoir the company created in 2005 by damming of the upstream catchments of the Subri stream.

He said the WSF was an impounded freshwater facility which provided supplementary freshwater for the Ahafo mine processing plant and that since 2005 the company populated the facility with cat fish and tilapia to control mosquito larvae in the water body but it had not harvested the fishes.

Giving the circumstances that led to the deaths of the fishes, Mr. Sowley said in 2011 an ecological study was undertaken by the Water Research Institute (WRI) to ascertain the ecological and public health status of the facility.

The results showed that ecological diversity was out of balance, the organic load was high and a number of parasites had affected the aquatic life.

“As a result of the study we have been working together with the WRI, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Water Resources Commission (WRC) to release excess water so as to improve the ecological balance”, Mr. Sowley said.

Mr. Agbeko Azumah, Communication Manager of the mine disclosed that the WRI had also picked sample of water in the WSF for testing and the result would be made public.

He refuted the allegation that some officials of Newmont heckled and damaged the camera of a media practitioner who attempted to film the incident.

Source: GNA

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