Gov’t urged to cease bauxite exploration at Atewa Forest and consult stakeholders

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The Coalition of NGOs against Mining in Atewa Forest has called on the Government of Ghana to immediately cease all exploration activities in relation to bauxite mining everywhere in the country, until the successful completion of broad stakeholder consultation.

According to the group, there seems to be no legitimacy and transparency in the preparatory processes leading to the mining of bauxite by the government.

Addressing a press conference in Accra, the coalition, in a statement read by its spokesperson, Mr Daryl Bosu said the whole process was shrouded in secrecy, total neglect and disrespect of voices that oppose the manner in which the government is seeking to implement the project.

The group said it did not understand why President Akufo-Addo and his government were bent on having their way, despite the million voices of reason asking them [government] to exempt the Atewa Forest from this bauxite agenda.

“The President keeps giving us the rhetoric of employing international best practices.

“International best practice requires that there must be a Strategic Environmental Assessment to account for the many ways in which development of the bauxite sector might affect the environment. Further to this, any specific activity on the ground must be preceded by an Environmental Impact Assessment, including exploratory activity.”

The coalition emphasised that the International Finance Corporation Standards recognised that protecting and conserving biodiversity, maintaining ecosystem services and sustainably managing living natural resources are fundamental to sustainable development.

Referring to the secret entry into the Atewa Forest by an unknown mining company with heavy excavators and other equipment, the coalition said that it was not enough for the President to give his personal assurance, or for his government to claim that it will keep a close eye on bauxite mining activities.

They, therefore, doubted his assurances for many reasons, including the lack of transparency and failure to adhere to human rights due diligence, community and stakeholder engagement even before the decision to mine a critical watershed such as Atewa Forest was considered.

The coalition added that the legitimacy of the decision was questionable as it failed to undertake due diligence assessment that will foster a positive legacy for communities and stakeholders.

“On what the President calls technology and what he has seen, there is clearly every indication that it’s not factual. According to the Minerals Commission, the bauxite deposits in Atewa are found in a seam on average 6 metres thick, just 1.5 to 3 metres below the surface. Strip mining is the only way to mine Ghana’s bauxite due to its closeness to the surface.

“This method removes all vegetation, habitats and top soil while the rock beneath is then broken up with explosives. A clear example of the destruction that is caused to forests by bauxite mining is Ghana’s existing bauxite mine at Awaso in the Western Region, now a desert of red mud that replaced once thick forest.”

The coalition also disclosed its intention to seek either local or international legal backing to restrain the Government of Ghana from executing its planned bauxite mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve to prevent the possible negative impact on downstream water bodies, underground aquifers and health problems that come with bauxite mining.

Several calls from local and international organisations and environmental experts have cautioned President Akufo-Addo and his government over bauxite mining in the Atewa Forest, which is a source of water for five regions in the country.

But despite the calls and cautions made to the President, the government still went ahead.

Source: The Finder

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Kennedy Mornah is an Award Winning Ghanaian Journalist with over two decades of experience in the Ghanaian Media landscape spanning the electronic, print and digital media. He is a Media Consultant, a Corporate MC, Radio and TV Host, Founder and Publisher of the Maritime and Transport Digest Newspaper, Businessman, a Go getter and an optimist. He has worked for renowned media organizations including Diamond Fm in Tamale, Luv Fm in Kumasi, Oman Fm in Accra and Starr Fm in Accra In 2017 he received the Reporter of the Year Award at the Ghana Shippers Awards in Accra, Ghana.

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