The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, has given the assurance that, the government would engage in responsible, sustainable and friendly environmental practices in mining bauxite in the Atewa Forest.
The comments follow protest by some residents of Atewa in the Eastern Region against the government’s move to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest.
Mr Amewu, who spoke to journalists in Tarkwa-Nsuta in the Western Region after he led a delegation to the Ghana Manganese Company on Friday, said the government would take a cue from international best practices regarding responsible mining to safeguard the environment and health of the people.
He made reference to Australia, which mined natural resources without endangering the environment, and noted that, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, a policy think tank, had conducted a base survey in the area that would guide mining of bauxite in the Atewa Forest.
The Minister gave the assurance that Government would engage in extensive stakeholders’ consultation with the people, to solicit their inputs in order to address their concerns before commencement of work.
Mr Amewu noted that, the Akufo-Addo-led government was committed to ensuring sustainable mining, and asked stakeholders in the extractive industry to support the government’s efforts.
Touching on some observations made at the GMC, Mr Amewu expressed his displeasure over the Company’s non-involvement of government in pricing manganese ore sold to a sister company in China.
He said the government had 10 per cent stake in GMC, and any affiliate transaction it engaged with any foreign firm, its consent must be sought.
Mr Amewu, therefore, asked the management of the GMC to furnish the Minerals Commission on details about the prices the ore was being sold to the Chinese firm.
He expressed unhappiness about the performance of the firm regarding complying with the country’s local content laws and the Contract Agreement it signed with the government.
He asked the management of the GMC to employ more local people in its operations and undertake more Corporate Social Responsibility within its operational areas.
The Minister said the Ministry would soon conduct an operational audit of all mining firms in the country to ensure that, government received its fair share of taxes and royalties paid by the multi-national firms from the exploitation of natural resources.
Meanwhile. Mr Zhang Zhengheng, the Managing Director of the GMC, said the Company paid 18 million dollars in taxes to the government last year.
He said the Company had projected to increase its production from two million tonnes of manganese to 4.8 million tons this year, and targeted to pay $430 million in taxes to the government this year.
The Minister and his entourage also inspected a resettlement programme undertaken by the GMC for the residents of New Tarkwa Banso.
A total of 308 structures including; church, mosque and market had been constructed by the Company for the people so that the Company could mine in the current residing place of the people.