Nana Oprohn Ekwam, General Manager of the Akooko Goldfields Limited operating in the East Akyem Municipality, has reiterated the company’s commitment in ensuring development of the affected communities.
He, therefore, appealed to all the affected communities and other stakeholders to give them the chance to start mining activities in their allocated concession based on global and best practices and Ghanaian mining regulations.
Nana Ekwam was speaking at the Environmental Impact Assessment Public Hearing on the proposed alluvial gold mining project by the company at Potroase on Friday.
He said the company had made a lot of strides on community development for the affected communities since it started surface mining in the area about nine years ago, and now that the chance had come to go into full mining activities, they would continue to support them.
Nana Ekwam said the company would ensure that adequate information was provided to protect affected people and other stakeholders in a clear and timely manner.
He said they would provide sufficient opportunity to the communities to voice out their concerns and opinions so that they could influence project decisions.
The General Manager promised that public consultation fora would be organised from time to time to effectively communicate and consult with various stakeholder groups in a culturally appropriate manner and that the realistic compensation would be paid to the communities.
He also promised to operate an open-door policy for interaction with community leaders such that stakeholders would feel comfortable approaching them directly to ask questions, discuss matters, and raise concerns.
He said the company would sign a social responsibility agreement which would focus on employment of locals, and that relationship with project communities through Social Responsibility Forum would be established later.
“We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to our social responsibility and collaborate with the Municipal Assembly to add value to the development of communities in which we operate,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel Afreh, Assistant Manager in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation of the Minerals Commission, said disagreements concerning payment of compensation to persons whose assets had been affected by mining activities had become a major problem in the industry.
He said there had been instances of disagreements, misunderstandings and mistrust between traditional authorities and mining communities on one side and the mining companies on the other as a result of inadequate payment of compensation to the beneficiaries.
Mr Afreh, therefore, appealed to Akooko Goldfields to ensure that appropriate and realistic compensation was paid to beneficiaries according to the new Minerals and Mining Compensation and Resettlement Regulations, LI 2175.
Mr Felix Addo-Okyireh, Eastern Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, appealed to the mining companies operating in the region to ensure that adequate consultation was done with the affected communities to avoid agitations.
He urged mining companies to maintain high environmental safety standards adding that his outfit would ensure strict compliance with the laws, regulations and guidelines pertaining to mining.
Mr Addo-Okyireh expressed concern about the reluctance of some of the companies to show responsibility in the protection of the environment.
He said one major challenge confronting his outfit was the issue of illegal mining operations in the region and urged the police and other security agencies to intensify their operations to address the situation.
Mr Fredrick Guggisberg Asante, Chairman of the Okyeman Environmental and Conservation Committee, advised the company to undertake vibrant community relations programmes and establish effective communication channels with the local communities to address concerns emanating from their activities.
Additionally, he told the company to initiate alternative livelihood projects for the population affected by their operations.
Mr Simon Asirifi, East Akyem Municipal Chief Executive, expressed concern about illegal mining activities in the area and appealed to traditional authorities to help bring the situation under control.
The affected communities in the municipality include Potroase Odumase, Akwadum, Apedwa and Obuase.