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General News Thu, 29 May 2003

Cyanide spillage into streams is false - Gold Fields Ghana

Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Ghana's largest gold producer, on Wednesday denied recent reports alleging that the Company had spilled cyanide into streams in Tarkwa.

The publication that there had been cyanide spillage is false since the situation was within the legal confines, Mr Richard Graeme, Managing Director of GFGL said when briefing Journalists in Accra on Wednesday.

"The Company's operations are according to strict regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and we operate within the best environmental conditions in countries we work."

He said there should have been a thorough investigation to ascertain the truth in the information given by the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) before the publication, Mr Graeme noted.

"We will not do here what we would not be allowed to do in California. Notwithstanding, we live in the same communities with the people and if they are sick we would be infected as well," Mr Graeme stressed.

Mr Graeme expressed confidence in the EPA and said it was ready to work in concert with it to achieve optimum conditions in all our concessions.

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He said the publication, even though, was directed at the Company's activities, had the potential of harming mining interest in Ghana, which could then be seen as an unattractive place for mining investment.

Mr Graeme expressed confidence in the media, saying it had played significant role in moving the industry forward and must not allow itself to be used to destroy the mining industry, which he described as a very sensitive area.

Dr Tony Aubynn, Corporate Affairs Manager of GFGL, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) Business Desk that the industry provided direct employment for 1,600 people, "not to talk about the fact that each of these have five people depending on them."

He said mining was a critical area of investment that required certain qualifications in terms of environmental, labour and general work ethics that no one in the industry could compromise on.

Dr Aubynn debunked arguments that the industry did not put back enough into the communities they operate, saying a lot of money went into revenue for Government as dividend as well as royalties.

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Three per cent of the gross of earnings is paid to Government.

Giving a breakdown of how the three per cent was distributed, he said 80 per cent was given to the State.

The remaining 20 per cent is distributed with 10 per cent going into the Mining Development Fund, District assemblies taking six per cent while the Traditional Council gets two per cent with two per cent going to the stool or skin."

He said GFGL was to invest 160 million dollars over the next two years starting from June in an expansion programme and Tarkwa Development and would not do anything to jeopardise the relationship with the communities it worked within.

Source: GNA