Residents prevent EPA from evaluating property on Newmont mine concession

Afrisipakrom, Aug. 05, GNA - Aggrieved residents of Afrisipakrom, a mining community within the Ahafo North concessional area of the Newmont Ghana Gold Limited have denied the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entry into their farms to evaluate their crops and property on the mine's concession.

Mr Ransford Sakyi, the Deputy Executive Director in-charge of Operations of the EPA and personnel of the agency were there to evaluate the crops and property and facilitate payment of compensation to the affected farmers in the Tano North Municipality of the Ahafo Region.

But angry residents resisted, insisting the EPA was not the mandatory public institution to do so.

Tension is however heightening between Newmont and the residents whose property and crops were on the mine’s concession, over the payment of compensation, following a declaration of moratorium by the company.

At a community engagement organised by the EPA in the town, the residents said they were unaware of the supposed declaration of moratorium by the company, but the mine maintained it had done so since 2017 to ward-off the residents from the concession.

The residents however, stressed that until the mine agreed to their demands, they would not allow it to begin operation in the area.

During a visit, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) sighted several structures including fish ponds and concessional areas.

But, Mr. Joseph Danso, the Social Responsibility/Land Access Regional Manager of the Ahafo Mine, regretted that most of the property were speculative activities being undertaken by the residents to obtain undue compensation from the company.

Addressing the residents, Mr. Sakyi pleaded with them to allow the EPA to evaluate the property, saying that would pave the way for the company to facilitate payment of compensation on them.

Mr. Bismarck Adjin Frimpong, the Chairman of the Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC) at Afrisipakrom said the residents had taken the entrenched position because they believed the company would deny them the required compensation on their properties.

“We have learnt lessons from other mining communities in the country, and we are not in any position to compromise, until the right thing is done.

“From the way things are going, if we are not careful, we are going to encounter similar challenges facing other mining communities and that is why we are adamant for the right thing to be done. It is not that we are against the company’s operations here”, Kwame Agyei, an affected farmer stated.

Nana Ansah Adu Baah, the Paramount Chief of Yamfo Traditional Area and President of the Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, advised the residents to remain calm, and allowed the EPA to perform its constitutional duties in the interest of the communities and the mine.

Meanwhile, there is high expectation of jobs among the locals in the five mining communities, as Newmont finalises modalities to commence actual mining in the area.

Residents in the Ahafo North mining enclave-Afrisipakrom, Techire, Susuanso, Yamfo and Adrobaa said they were optimistic the operations of the mine would not only open up the communities, but would also create jobs for them to enhance on their socio-economic livelihoods.

They therefore appealed to the government, and relevant stakeholders to help impress on the company to engage them to do menial jobs, especially in the hospitality sector.

“The company posted adverts on public notices in the communities and some of us have already applied, and we prayed it would consider and engage us so as to better our lives”, Emelia Amankwaa, a resident at Susuansoi indicated.