The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah has asked Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, to produce documents indicating that he approved the mining of bauxite in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve.
He said until he sees those documents, he is not going to release the seized equipment.
The police through the Atwima Mponua District Chief Executive (DCE) impounded equipment belonging to Engineers and Planners who have been engaged by Exton Cubic Group Limited.
According to the Ashanti Regional Minister the equipment were seized because of improper documentation.
Mr. Amewu’s Ministry, through the Forestry Commission, recently issued a license to Exton Cubic Group Limited, to mine bauxite in the Ashanti Region.
However Mr Simon Osei-Mensah does not understand why the Minister will give such authorization when there is an embargo on illegal mining activities.
He said in an interview on Peace FM’s morning show ‘Kokrokoo’, Tuesday that President Akufo- Addo’s aim of fighting illegal mining in the country will come to nought if ‘we allow people to start mining’.
“Until we get the document we are not releasing them (equipment) . . . I am not taking anything verbal. I need all the documents; item by item and then we will review it. When everything is okay, we will release them. Until the ban (on small scale mining) is over, if we allow people to start mining, the efforts of the President in fighting illegal mining will come to naught. Why the rush, why can’t we wait for the ban to be over. The Minister should bring the documents or any agreement he had with the company . . .,” he stated.
The Lands Ministry through the Forestry Commission issued a license to Exton Cubic Group Limited to mine bauxite in the region on June 20, 2017. The mining company in turn engaged Engineers and Planners (E&P), a company owned by Mr Mahama, to use its equipment to undertake a prospective service.
But hours after E&P moved its men and logistics to site, the police through the Atwima Mponua District Chief Executive (DCE) impounded its equipment, citing improper documentation.
In a statement released by Exton Cubic Group Limited and signed by its Managing Director, Augustus Amegashie, a portion read, “We are yet to receive any official communication from the authorities concerned as to why our sub-contractor’s trucks and equipment have been impounded.”
“In the meantime, our Lawyers are engaged in talks with the police in the area over the issue and it is our hope that the police will release the impounded trucks as soon as possible to forestall any further pecuniary losses to us.”
“In conclusion, we would like to emphasize our commitment to the observance of the laws of the mining sector of Ghana. As a company, we are mindful of the regulations that govern the mining sector of Ghana. We have at all times endeavored to abide by these rules and regulations and we shall continue to do so in our operations.”
Exton Cubic Group Limited has threatened to take legal action against the Ashanti Regional Minister if he does not release the equipment belonging to Engineers and Planners owned by Ibrahim Mahama.
“We know that this government believes in the tenets of the rule of law; that you just cannot impound and seize the [equipment] so our lawyers are already involved. Already we are facing a lot of financial losses. We are going to go through the legally laid down process,” Communications Officer of Exton Cubic Group Limited, Samuel Gyamfi, told Joy News.
However, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah says he is not perturbed.
According to him, “they can do and say whatever they want to say; what I am saying is that the minister should bring the documents; what is difficult about this . . . it’s one too many; you should know there is a Regional Minister, there are District Chief Executives (and so in such situations) inform them so that when something happens they will be able to defend it.”
Tano-Offin Forest Reserve
The Tano-Offin Forest Reserve which is located in Kyereyaaso in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region, is a Globally Scientific Biodiversity Area which is strictly protected, according to the Forestry Commission.
The Offin River passes through this forest reserve which has a total area of 41,392ha (413.92km2). It is the 4th largest Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) in Ghana and has been classified as a protected area because of its significant biological importance to human existence.