A coalition involving about five different groups are calling on the government to provide further clarification on what the president describes as ‘international best practices in bauxite mining.
The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has given assurances that the government’s plan to have bauxite mined in the country’s largest surviving natural rainforest, the Atewa forest, will not in any way destroy the environment.
While expressing his deep commitment to the plan to mine in the forest during the Sustainable Ocean Industries Conference organised under the auspices of the Petroleum Commission of Ghana, Aker Energy and the Norwegian Embassy in Ghana, the president said that he was satisfied with the information and demonstration he had received about mining without disturbing wildlife in the forest.
“Beginning now, the full scale exploitation of Ghanaian bauxite resources [will commence]. We are in a better place, technology-wise than we would have been 20, 30 years ago [to do this]…I am satisfied by what I have been told and what has been demonstrated to me that, it is possible for us to get that red matter out without disturbing the wildlife that there is in the Atewa mountains,” the President said.
But responding to the president in a joint press conference organized by the five groups; Green Livelihood Alliance, Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, KASA Initiative Ghana, Coalition of NGOs against Mining in Atewa Forest and CSO platform for SDG 15 they stated that “International best practice requires that there must be a Strategic Environmental Assessment(SEA) to account for the many ways in which development of the bauxite sector might affect the environment.” They stated that so far this has not been done and they therefore find it difficult to understand the kind of International Best Practices the President is talking about hence the call on the government to give further clarification on the issue.
Addressing the press Conference, Daryl Bosu, Vice President of Arocha Ghana, one of the civil societies leading the advocacy against bauxite mining in the forest said, “according to the Minerals Commission, the bauxite deposits in Atewa are found in a seam on average 6 metres thick, just 1.5 to 3 metres below the surface. Strip mining is the only way to mine Ghana’s bauxite due to its closeness to the surface. This method removes all vegetation, habitats and top soil, while the rock beneath is then broken up with explosives.” Using Awaso as an example, Mr. Bosu said the destruction that is caused to forests by bauxite mining is Ghana’s existing bauxite mine at Awaso in the Western Region, now a desert of red mud that replaced once thick forest.
The group stated that they are therefore willing and ready to learn from the experience and best practices the president talked about if any exist and calling on the government to provide further information and clarifications on such best practices.
Mr. Bosu further added that their call is legitimate owning to the fact that the president serves as a co-chairman to the sustainable development goals (SDGs). He stated that Atewa Forest alone contributes to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 15 and exposing the Atewa Forest to bauxite mining will compromise the SDGs hence the call on the government to give further clarifications on the said best practices which can be used without harming any of these SDGs.
ONGOING BULLDOZING WORKS
Meanwhile, the Daily Statesman had report last week that some excavators were carving paths through the forest, a move which has sparked concerns among some people that bauxite mining may have already started in the forest.
Forestry Commission’s denial
However, the Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, Mr Isaac Adonten, has denied any mining activity ongoing in the reserve. He however confirmed knowledge of the bulldozing activity saying the work ongoing is an opening up of an old path to allow the Ghana Aluminum Integrated Development Corporation (GAIDEC) undertake a geological assessment.
He said: “The issue is that nothing is happening there; an old road, which has previously been in use, is being opened up to allow for the Ghana Aluminum Integrated Development Corporation to do what they call geological assessment or on the other way round, do exploration, that’s all.
“Apart from that nothing is happening, nobody is mining anything there, they are only making access roads to enable them have access to the old pit that has been dug inside the forest. What they’re going to do is basically a verification. They had information that this is how much is here, so they just want to do a verification to be sure the information they have is the right information”, he reiterated.
[…] Coalition of NGOs Against Mining in Atewa Forest have written to the Speaker of Parliament to invoke parliaments oversight role as representatives of the people in the proposed mining of Atewa forest reserve for bauxite. […]