Newmont Ghana is having a hectic time in the process of seeking a permit for its Ahafo South Mining and Processing Expansion Project, with some Stakeholders from its host communities In the Ahafo area, demanding that the Firm addresses existing challenges before approval is given for expansion.Â A Public Hearing at Kenyasi on the proposed project however ended with Chiefs and People giving their approval with a proviso that concerns of some communities on the dangers posed by Newmont’s Water Dam and its ability to employ locals as well as others are dealt with satisfactorily before the proposed commencement date in August this year. Newmont Ghana has been operating in Bono-Ahafo for close to a decade and is now seeking to expand its operations.Â Under the Ahafo South Mining andÂ Processing Expansion Project, the Mining firm is seeking to increase gold production and reduce cost of production due to increases in stockpiles of ore as well as in the resources of the Ahafo Mine.Â When the Project is completed it will lead to increase in the capacity of the mill from processing seven and a half million tons to 12 million tons of ore in a year.Â The new mill will also handle both mined ore and stockpiles.Â With the permit virtually assured, the project will begin in August, 2015 and be completed in two yearsâ€™ time.Â But the process of seeking approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been quite hectic.Â It started in 2013, with the presentation of a Scoping Report but at that time they failed to get permission due to queries raised by the EPA, on behalf of Host Chiefs.Â It centred on expected impact on water use and management of the Tailings Dam.Â Two years on, the firm made another attempt to get the permitting process moving with a new improved draft report.Â In accordance with law, in attendance at the Public Hearing, were Chiefs and People of the ten host communities and surrounding Villages in Newmont’s operational areas. The Asutifi North District Assembly was represented by the DCE, Eric Addae.Â A Consultant on the Project, Van d Vart and an Official of Newmont, Vida Rose Asakpo, took turns to brief the gathering about the project and the expected impact on the environment and the Mining Firm’s operations.Â Their presentations brought the Director of Mining at the EPA, Micheal Ali Sandow, to his feet, expressing his dissatisfaction with the presentations, saying it was bereft of real information on expected impact on the environment and water use, in particular. When the opportunity was extended for the Chiefs and the Public to air their views, a barrage of questions and suggestions were unleashed for both the Mining Firm and the EPA to answer.Â Among them were; what is to be done about communities demanding re settlement, at Damso, Yellogruma and Dormaa Katinka, how to prevent deaths and diseases on the Water Storage Facility, the need to offer scholarships to children of people who lose land to miningÂ and how to ensure more employment opportunities for indigenes of the ten host communities.Â Between the Consultant on the Project and other Officials of Newmont, they did their best to answer the questions.Â Despite the insistence on the part of many of the Youth and others, that permit for the expansion project be withheld until their concerns have been met, the Chiefs intervened.Â When the dust finally settled the Chairman of the three member panel, which presided over the public hearing, Richard Hinneh of The Ghana Health Service, said the Chiefs had exerted their influence to facilitate acceptance of the expansion works on the condition that immediate steps be taken to address the concerns of the communities before the project takes off in August this year.
Source:Biiya Mukusah Ali/http://newspaper.developghana.com/