Mining Atewa Forest won’t create jobs -Rocha

Rocha Ghana, together with its partners, has called on traditional leaders in the Eastern Region to reject the idea that mining of the Atewa Range Forest Reserve would create jobs for their teeming unemployed youth.

According to the group, most traditional leaders, especially those within the Atewa enclave, have failed to appreciate why they (non-governmental organisations – NGOs) were kicking against the mining of the forest reserve, as they had been misled to believe that mining Atewa was tantamount to jobs creation.

Rocha Ghana’s partners in the fight against mining in Atewa were Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, Eco-Conscious Citizens, Ghana Youth Environment Movement, Eco-Care Ghana, KASA Initiative, Boakye Twumasi-Ankra, and Nana Asante.

The President of Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, Oteng Adjei, said at a press conference in Accra last week Friday, that some of the chiefs had been misled to throw their weight behind mining exploration that would have dire consequences on the environment.

He argued that what some of the chiefs had come to believe was anything to go by, Awaso, which had hosted bauxite mining for over 80 years, would have been a shining example.

Per his observation, bauxite mining at Awaso had not improved the economic and social circumstances of the people, but the total devastation of their environment.

He called on the chiefs to consider the fact that the prospective mining companies would not require so many workforces, as the excavation would be done by machines.

Mr. Adjei added that the chiefs and about 46 communities around the forest should avert their minds to the domestic and industrial difficulty that would be visited upon the citizens should the mining be allowed.

The Concerned Citizens President regrettably said the Densu and Birim rivers, which take their source from the north part of the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, would be affected as well as wildlife.

Darly Bosu, Deputy National Director of Rocha Ghana, added that while his organisation was not against the development of bauxite mining in the country, it was concerned with the Atewa Range Forest, because it was a water source for three major rivers – Ayensu, Birim, and Densu – in the country.

He said many countries were facing one of the worst droughts in world history, therefore, making water a scarce resource, and urged Ghana to take a cue, since it could not afford to import water.

According to him, the youth in particular should be highly concerned with the development of the Atewa Forest, because the mining activities, couple with climate change, would destroy the forest cover that protected the watershed and expose millions of people to water insecurity.

“We reiterate that regardless of how small the area planned for the bauxite mining, Atewa must not be mined for bauxite…Ghana can have a thriving integrated aluminum industry without targeting Atewa Forest, in order to save crucial water sources for five million Ghanaians. Failure to heed to this call will be intergenerational suicidal and reckless.”

Lack of transparency         

Mr. Bosu also accused the government of acting in secrecy with the issuance of the prospecting license to Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) on July 27, 2022. “And, this is a complete disregard for Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703), which requires transparency in granting minerals rights.

“We believe they have done this to push through their agenda with the minimum of resistance from local communities, civil society, and all Ghanaians concerned about the Atewa Forest and Ghana’s future,” he said. “Certain information provided by GIADEC and government also appears misleading…”

He said in order for the government to minimise resistance from the citizens, the sector Ministry did not notify the relevant District Assemblies about the application for mineral rights.

Similarly, while the government had made the citizens believe that just a fraction (1.9%) of the forest would be mined, the prospecting license of the GIADEC published on the Ghana Minerals Commission website reveals that almost half of the northern part of Atewa Range Forest Reserve would be mined.

“We see this development to be extremely serious breaches of Ghanaians’ trust, and in some cases breaches of administration procedures, guidelines and laws regarding mining in protected forest reserves by the Government of Ghana itself,” he added.


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