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General News Wed, 30 Jun 2010

Consultant to assess River Yaakye cyanide spillage

Kenyasi No. 2 (B/A), June 30, GNA - The government has asked an independent consultant to undertake vulnerability assessment of the impact of cyanide that spilled from the plant site of Ahafo Mine of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited at Kenyasi in Asutifi District, into to River Yaakye and its tributaries at Kwabuokrom, last year.

The consultant, who will begin work on Monday July 5, this year, is expected to complete the assessment in three weeks. Mrs. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, disclosed this at Kenyasi number two, after she visited the affected areas and held a meeting with management of Newmont Ghana, on Tuesday. She was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology Dr. Omane Boama and Directors at the Ministry and the EPA. Mrs. Ayittey said that recommendations of the consultant would enable government to determine modalities for determining the needs of the people directly affected by the spillage.

She explained that the consultant would work especially on how the spillage had affected the people to enable the authorities address their needs and those of traditional rulers and the district assembly. Mrs. Ayittey said that recommendations of the consultant would be made available to the Kenyasi Number One, Kenyasi Number Two and Ntotroso Traditional Councils and the district assemblies for study and suggestions towards addressing their needs.

She appealed to the chiefs and people of the affected communities to channel their grievances through the appropriate quarters for redress instead of resorting to unnecessary agitations. Mrs. Ayittey said that government would review the mining law and had set up a committee working on some aspects of the law especially in the areas of crop and land compensation, payment of royalties and resettlements. She asked the traditional councils to delegate people to attend the committee sittings to enable them to put across their concerns and suggestions for the review of the mining law. Mrs. Ayittey expressed concern about the activities of illegal miners (galamsey) and appealed to the traditional councils to help bring the situation under control.

Mrs. Ayittey advised mining companies to obtain valid and requisite permits or be prepared to face the full rigours of the law. Odeneho Dadeako Ababio, Omanhene of Kenyasi Number Two, expressed regret that the management of the company in the area was peddling falsehood that they had constructed palaces for the three traditional councils. "If we are undertaking our palace projects and you give us some financial support it does not mean you have constructed the project for us. It behoves the company to even construct a modern palace for each of the chiefs considering our relationship with the mining company". Odeneho Ababio said that the traditional councils had prevented agitations by the youth in the affected areas against Newmont Nana Osei Kofi Abiri, Omanhene of Kenyasi Number One expressed worry that almost all the farmlands in the area had been destroyed due to activities of the company.

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He said majority of farmers in the area had become poor due to mining activities and appealed to the Ministry to ensure that the company found alternative means of livelihood for the victims. Barima Wereko Ampem, Chief of Ntotoroso, appealed to government to ensure that communities that were directly affected by the spillage benefited much from the compensation.

He expressed worry that the chunk of the amount was going into government chest to the detriment of the affected people. Dr. Boama told Ghana News Agency that government would not disburse physical cash to the people but intended to use the amount to undertake development projects and provide basic health needs.

"If we realize that the people need to be resettled or need boreholes and other amenities we would use the money for such purposes", he said. Cyanide from the plant site of the Ahafo Mine spilled into River Yaakye and its tributaries, the only source of drinking water for the people of Kwabuokrom and its environs On October 9, 2009.

Consequently, government formed a committee to negotiate with the company and the latter paid GHC 7 million as compensation based on a regulation in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act. Since then there has been agitations from the people in the community directly affected by the spillage as well as the Kenyasi number one and Kenyasi number two and Ntotroso traditional councils asking government to ensure that they had their fair share of the compensation.

Source: GNA
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