The Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG), a Sunyani-based environmentally inclined Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has issued a month ultimatum to Newmont Ahafo North Mine, to pay outstanding compensation of affected farmers in the Tano North Municipality, Ahafo Region.
The NGO, which was registered in 2004 as a research and advocacy institution, promotes community rights and mineral governance, environmental sustainability and sustainable livelihood for marginalised people, including rural women and persons with disabilities.
Mr Richard Adjei-Poku, the Executive Director of LEG, said the Organisation would have no other option than to arraign the company in court, if it failed to effect payment of the arrears to the affected farmers by the end of February 2024.
Addressing a news conference in Sunyani, Mr Adjei-Poku explained that both Articles 20 (2a) of the 1992 Constitution, and Section 73 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, (Act 703, 2006), obliged companies to execute prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation to persons whose property (buildings, crops and lands) shall be affected by mineral mining operations.
Additionally, the Compensation and Resettlement Regulation (2012, L.I. 2175 Section 4 (1) also mandated companies to pay property owners within three months after an amount of compensation payable had been agreed by parties, else payment of 10 per cent interest anytime compensation remained unpaid.
“Unfortunately, the Newmont Ahafo North Mine of Newmont Africa continues to be disdainful towards the farmers and laws of Ghana,” he stated.
Describing the situation as “exploitative and defiant,” Mr Adjei-Poku an environmentalist, alleged that Newmont “failed to pay compensation arrears of the vulnerable farmers in Ahafo North whose compensation packages were manipulated by the same company and its allies”.
“Last year, the government issued an Executive Instrument compelling the concerned farmers in Ahafo North, who rejected Newmont’s scanty compensation package, to accept it else they shall use force to acquire the land”.
He said it was a mystery why the government was still paying a deaf ear to the concerns of these vulnerable groups, as the company refused to pay them their arrears.
Mr Adjei-Poku also quoted Section 100 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703, 2006), saying, it compelled the government and regulatory bodies to ensure proper implementation and companies’ compliance of the mining laws.
The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPBHR, 2011) also compels governments to regularly review whether the laws are providing the necessary coverage to mining affected people and communities, he stated.
Mr Adjei-Poku said it was unfortunate and disturbing that the government and relevant state institutions were all silent as the company breached the key provisions of the 1992 Constitution and the Minerals and Mining Act.
He said, “Newmont Corporation is the world’s leading gold mining company, and it has attained this because of their production from Ahafo and Akyem mines in the country,” and called on the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the existing legislations worked for all, not only multinational mining companies.
When contacted, Mr Samuel Osei, the Communications and External Relations Manager of the Newmont Ahafo North Project and Newmont Ahafo South Mines, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the company would respond to the concerns soon.