Business News of 2014-03-15

Mining laws lack community rights

Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM says the country’s legal framework for mining operations does not have enough protection for community rights.

The law has no provisions for no-go zones for mining and this has led to a situation whereby mining companies seek mining concessions in forest reserves, she said.

Mrs Owusu-Koranteng, who disclosed this in an interview with GNA, said most of the forest reserves in Ghana were sitting on gold and other mineral reserves and this made the reserves a target for exploitation.

Mining laws in Ghana are also silent on provisions that address cyanide spillages and chemical pollution of water bodies, as well as community participation in decision-making processes.

A clear demarcation of active mining operations from communities, water bodies, and protected areas of the country is needed to help curb and outlaw the practice whereby companies use water heads for mining activities, she said.

Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said a critical look at the Minerals and Mining Act (703) reveals that it had no provisions on human rights audits and reporting in mining, as well as conflict resolution mechanisms.

Though the general public accepted the need to reform the mining laws, successive governments lacked the political will to undertake such reforms, she said.

Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said the ECOWAS Directive for the harmonisation of policies on mining, which had been ratified and gazetted, provided a benchmark for the reforms of the mining laws.

She therefore said it was based on these reforms that WACAM, a human rights and environmental mining advocacy organisation, had taken the mandate to embark on a project to strengthen its community groups and networks for advocacy on mining law reforms. WACAM’s OSIWA Project aims to use Rights Based-Approach to strengthen capacity of community-based organisations and mining communities for effective engagement and advocacy for reforms in mining the laws.

The specific objectives include increasing target mining community awareness on the provisions in the ECOWAS Directives and sensitisation on environmental and community rights to livelihoods.

The 15-month project, she said, would be carried out in 12 communities in Western, Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions.

They are Saaman, Akyem Heman, Yayaso, Osino, Busoso, Abompeh in Eastern, Prestea, Maase Nsuta, Brepro and Teberebie in Western and Donkro-Nkwanta, Salamkrom, Damso, Kenyase and Kantinka in the Brong Ahafo Region. Mrs Koranteng said the project sought to work with the beneficiary communities for effective engagements with policy makers on community rights and mineral law reforms.

Source: Daily Guide
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