Government has declared as void and invalid, the purported mining leases granted to Exton Cubic Group Limited to mine bauxite deposits at a forest reserve in Nyinahin in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region.Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, who announced the decision of government in Accra Monday, said the three mining leases were invalid because the country’s mining laws were not duly followed in securing the said licenses.
According to Mr. Amewu, a series of documents were supposed to have been submitted by Exton Cubic but said none of those were fulfilled hence the leases granted the company on December 29, 2016, were invalid.
The documents included an environmental assessment form EA2, environmental impact assessment, scoping report, environmental impact statement, annual environmental report to the EPA and a liability estimates of environmental degradation in line with the Environmental Assessment Regulation 1999 (LI1652).
The government said Exton Cubic was also required to have obtained an exploration operating permit for the year 2017 as well as submitted to the Minerals Commission, an exploration operating plan. ‘Lease’ properly secured… Engineers and Planners, a firm contracted to do some work for Exton Cubic, had its machinery seized on suspicions that the company was doing illegal mining at the Nyinahin bauxite concession.
The company denied the claims, and stated it was granted mining lease for the Nyinahini bauxite concession by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on the 29th of December 2016 having satisfied “all the laid down procedures required by law”.
It said it was yet to commence actual mining of bauxite in its concession at Nyinahini in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve, indicating that what it was engaged in was preparatory works. But gov’t disagrees Addressing a news conference Monday, Mr. Amewu said Exton Cubic was said to have on October 29, 2016, made three applications for mining leases, and that evaluation comments by the Minerals Commission on the feasibility report presented by the company were made on November 9, 2016.
The minister said on November 10, 2016, an offer was purportedly made by the Minerals Commission to the company in respect of the three mining leases. On December 29, 2016, the then Minister for Lands and Natural Resources forwarded copies of three purported mining leases to the company for signing.
Mr Amewu said “there was no publication of notice of the pendency of the application for mining leases in the Gazette as required by Act 703 and LI 2176” Despite the absence of a gazette notification, he said the Minerals Commission by three separate letters all dated November 10, 2016, contrary to section 13(1) of Act 703 purported to have offered to the company three mining leases, subject to the payment of specified charges.
The purported offer letter by the Minerals Commission, according to Mr Amewu, were written even before the Minerals Commission forwarded its recommendation to the then Minister on December 28, 2016.
“The Minister upon receipt of the letter of December 28, 2016, proceeded to sign the purported mining leases on December 29, 2016,” he said. He said the government would investigate the conduct of officials who supervised the purported mining leases to Exton Cubic without recourse to the mining laws.