MINERALS Commission of Ghana has begun a full scale investigations into the reported case made public by the residents of Brahabebome and its surrounding communities in Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality of the Western Region to the effect that the Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL)has engaged in the illegal heavy blasting of gold dynamite explosion in the area.
The residents reported that the heavy blasting of mine rocks of the company has adversely caused damages to the school classrooms building, churches, room appliances, group laid ties, electrical appliances, water bodies and houses Brahabebome and its surrounding communities in Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality, which has been posing a morbid fear and panic to the residents.
The irresponsible mining activities of the multi-national gold mining company, the residents noted have been done on the blind side of the state mining regulatory institutions including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana Minerals Commission Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Ministry of Science and Environment, Technology and Innovation and Parliament Select Committee on Mines.
The investigations of the matter by the Commission has followed the recent media report published by Myafricatoday.net with the headline “Heavy Blasting of Mine Rocks by GFGL…Please Don’t Wait For Us To Die!
*Tarkwa-Brahabebom residents to Akufo-Addo.”
However in order to ascertain the authenticity of the reported case, Myafricatoday.net was reliably informed that the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh has directed Minerals Commission branch of Senkodi-Takoradi in the Western Region to embark on the fact findings mission to the Brahabebome and its surrounding communities in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality.
In that effect, this online news portal gathered that the two officers in the persons of the Public Relations Officer ((PRO) of the Western Regional Minerals Commission, Mr Rechard Amoakoh Kesse and Mr Samuel Abakah first met the members of the Brahabebome New Town Landlords Association on Friday March 27, 2020 to be briefed more about the heavy blasting activihas of the company.
The meeting which was held at the premises of the Chosen Vessel Ministries Church branch at Brahabebome-Tarkwa was attended by the leadership of Brahabebome New Town Landlords Association in the persons of Mr Frank Mintah, Afred Assan, Emmanuel Brew Armoo, Francis Boadu, Francis Awujah, William Ahia Kwetey, Ishmael Acquah and Fostener Akyiapong.
Prior to the meeting with the officers of the Commission, residents from Brahabobome, University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Governor Hill, Agric Hill, North Agric Hill, Tarkwa Senior High School, Nkanponase (Camp City) etc are planning to obtain a police permit from Tarkwa District Police Command to stage a massive peaceful demonstration against the illegal blasting mine rocks of the company.
After three and half hours of a closed-door meeting between the officers of Commission and the leadership of Brahabebome New Town Landlords Association, the members of the Association had stressed the need for the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commssion to impress upon the company to implement the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) report by way of executing partial resettlement of the persons whose building structures fall within the 500 metres of its operations.
Myafricatoday.net gathered that the officers of the Commssion assured the members of the Association in the meeting that they would have meetings with the management of GFGL, Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Assembly, Mr Gilbert Ken Asmsh, Tarkwa MUSEC and some relevant stakeholders for further consultations to be conducted on the matter.
And after that they would submit their report of their findings to the national headquarters of the Minerals Commission for appropriate actions to be taken on the matter.
Speaking in an interview with Myafricatoday.net after the meeting, the Chairman of the Association, Mr Emmanuel Brew Armoo stated that in 2013, the leadership of Brahabobome lodged a petition to CHRAJ about the illegal blasting of Gold Fields Ghana Limited which is less than three or four hundred metres away from the community against the mining laws in Ghana.
He bemoaned that the blasting activities of the company have been affecting their buildings, electrical appliances and their health, which the CHRAJ ruled in February 2018 by setting up a road map to be implemented by the company for a peaceful co-existence.
He continued that since then GFGL has refused to implement the recommendations by CHRAJ in spite of the former agreeing to do so after the three months ultimatum by CHRAJ and even increased their illegal blasting to the detriment of the residents of the communities and the health of the residents.
Mr Armoo said after several petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana Minerals Commission Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Ministry of Science and Environment, Technology and Innovation and Parliament Select Committee on Mines, Tarkwa MCE, the Western Regional Coordinating Council ( WRCC ) and WACAM, GFGL have failed to implement the CHRAJA recommendations.
It would be recalled that the worried residents have made a passionate appeal to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to, urgently evacuate them from the area before they die from the recent gold dynamite explosion by the Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL), a multi-national gold mining company operating in the area.
According to them, the continued stay of the over 2,500 residents in Brahabebom, put their lives and properties in great danger as irresponsible heavy blasting of the company are ongoing at 400 metres or 300 metres to the community and excessive blasting goes on routinely which is completely violating the provisions of regulations 176 (1) of Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (Li2177).
They stated that for the look of things the gold mining activities of the company is not bringing any benefit to the people but rather creating a lot of damages to “our buildings and encroaching into our lands that we had genuinely and legally bought from the elders and landowners at Brahabebom, hence we are appealing to President Akuffo-Addo to direct the company to resettle us.”
Speaking in an inclusive interview with this reporter at the fact findings mission to the Tarkwa-Brahabebom community on Friday, March 20, 2020, the residents wondered why it is taking the government of Ghana so long to ask the multi-national mining company to resettle then.
They lamented that the heavy blasting of mine rocks of the company has adversely caused damages to school buildings, churches, water bodies and houses in the area which has been posing fear and panic to the residents.
“We are not saying that the GFGL should not mine gold at Tarkwa-Brahabebom but what we are saying was that if indeed the company wants to mine here then it should resettle us because we are genuine settlers on our lands,” the affected residents clarified. But what GFGL is doing now in support of Minerals Commission of Ghana is completely illegal which has contradicted the provisions of regulations 176 (1) of Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (Li2177),” the residents stated.
They reiterated that “When one gets up late at night you can smell the dynamite and all the chemicals used in blasting. With this in view, the community is in danger of industrial diseases, air pollution and cracking of building structures,” the residents cried out.”
They expressed wonder that although the recent report from the investigations conducted by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on the operation of the company in the area has recommended that the company should execute partial resettlement of persons whose building structures fall within the 500 metres of its operations, the multinational gold mining company failed to comply.
They pointed out that the company excessive blasting of mine rocks is ongoing and at the moment the community is in serious danger, adding that the company’s commercial activities had also posed serious environmental health risks to the residents.
Regrettably, the residents stated that the company claimed that its operation goes beyond the CHRAJ recommendations for mather that it would not implement the recommendations of the CHRAJ which situation has created confusion between the residents and company.
However, the CHRAJ recommendations to Goldfields Ghana Limited after the conclusion of its investigations which was sighted by this reporter reads in part; “The company should execute partial resettlement of persons whose structure fall within 500 metres of their operations.
The report indicated that “Because when a process or procedure has been prescribed by a legislative provision, that process or procedure must be complied with.”
According to the report, “The company (Goldfields) must comply with blasting requirements provided for in regulation 176 and 199 of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations 2012 (L.I.2177).
“The reason being that the company cannot choose to blast at any level they wish at the expense of the residents of the Brahabebom Community. The company should adopt practices that will reduce vibrations levels of blasting,” the report added.
The Commission concluded its report by stating that, CHRAJ shall monitor the implementation of the recommendations as provided for in section 18(2) of Act 456 of 1993, which states “If, within three months after the report is made no action is taken which seems to the commission to be adequate and appropriate, the commissioner may after considering the comment, if any made by or on behalf of the department, authority or person against whom the complaint was made, an action before any court and seek such remedy as may be appropriate for the enforcement of the recommendations of the commission.”
But the residents told Today that, the CHRAJ report was submitted to Goldfields Ghana Limited on 13th February 2018 and copied to the state mining regulatory institutions including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana Minerals Commission Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Ministry of Science and Environment, Technology and Innovation, Parliament Select Committee on Mines, Office President, Chief of Staff saying that it is almost two years now and nothing is being done by these state institutions.
They fumed with rage that “This has given Goldfields the impetus to continue to blast so excessively without regards to properties and human lives.”
Despite the above recommendations, most annoying aspect of the issue, according to the residents was the recent moved by the Mineral Commission of Ghana to go ahead to grant approval to the company to mine gold less than the 500 metres radius on October 19, 2018, the development they described as illegal.
It is important to quote a portion of the approval letter to Goldfields which reads in part “Approval is being sought is granted to management to start the blasting operations at Atuabo– Mantiam pit to within 400 metres from Brahabebom community.”
Oh! Mr President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, you are waiting for our building structures to collapse and killed us before you will instruct the state mining regulatory agencies to ask Gold Fields Ghana Limited, a multinational gold mining company operating at Brahabebom community in the Tarkwa Municipality to implement the report of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to resettle us to another location,” they asked and lamented “We want to tell you that the heavy blasting of gold rocks at Brahabebom characterized by its destruction of lives and properties is also more serious like Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic that you have taken urgent measures to address it spreading in Ghana.”
In fact, the residents stressed that we want to tell our President that the irresponsible operation of the company is ongoing and at the moment the community is in great danger.
And we contracting the deadly diseases of the excessive dynamites explosion by the gold,” they added.
The complaints bitterly that anytime that the15-member Joint Blast Monitoring Committee (JBMC) set up by Tarkwa MUSEC
made up of officials of the EPA, Minerals Commission, CHRAJ, Tarkwa MUSEC and representatives of the Association went on the exercise to monitor the company’s blasting activities, the company would take time to blast slowly to create the impression that it operates within the provisions of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulation (L.I. 2177).
According to them, the response from the company to Today current report that it has always engaged stakeholders in the area in a transparent, honest and respectful manner in connection of responding to their concerns was not, stressing that there is no cordial relationship the company and its host community.
They explained that the engagement that the company was claimed to have done was the previous (old) actions taken in 2014 by the company to resolve its destruction caused to the properties in the area, saying that the current ongoing heavy blasting activities are completely different.
“This engagement the company claimed it has with the stakeholders was done in 2013 at the first time that the company realised that it’s gold mining activities has caused damage to our properties and engaged the services of the consultant to mediate on a compensation package for the damage caused to the properties of the residents.
“So we want to state that the ongoing damage caused by the company through its blasting gold mining activities were not even attended to by the company,” Mr Mintah noted.
When contacted by Today to respond to the matter, Gold Fields Ghana Limited acknowledged the concerns raised by the residents but was quick to note that the company cannot resettle all the residents in the area.
According to the company, it realized that most of the residents didn’t fall within the resettlement area but they were claiming to be relocated and that when “we so do it is going to cost financial lost to the company.”
The company asserted that in line with its Society and Community Charter, it always engages stakeholders in a transparent, honest and respectful manner, adding that it had worked above the recommendation issued by the CHRAJ.
“We are committed to working with all stakeholders to resolve the matter amicably for our mutual benefit. We assure all our stakeholders that, we will continue to operate within the provisions of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulation (L.I. 2177) and implement all measures required to reduce the impact of blasting to ensure the safety of members of the Brahabobom community,” the company assured.
Source: Myafritoday net Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU,