NEWMONT Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL), operators of the Ahafo mine, has rendered apologies to the chiefs and people of Ntotroso, one of the communities affected by the company’s operations in the Asutifi District in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The company’s apology followed the decision by the people not to allow the mining company to operate in an area in which the payment of compensation had delayed after Newmont had taken possession almost a year ago.
The people took the decision at a meeting with the company at Ntotroso last Friday to fix prices for their fish pond, village structures and wells which were acquired by the company but had since not paid any compensation to them.
The company made the apology through the chief of Ntortroso, Barima Twereku Ampem III immediately after the meeting. But despite the apology, the aggrieved people prevented the company from entering the area for four days and security personnel had to intervene to persuade them before they rescinded their decision for negotiations to continue.
According to the people, in 2004, the same company paid GH¢65,000 as maximum and GH¢1,300 minimum compensation package for the same type and value of village structure, adding that despite inadequate compensation, the company had also delayed in payment.
In response, Mr Emmanuel Ato Aubyn, the Community Relations Manager of Newmont said a committee had been set up by the company to deal with issues concerning resettlement and relocation so no other person or group could by-pass the committee when it came to matters of such nature.
He stated that it would therefore be in the interest of the community to write to the Resettlement Negotiation Committee to beg it to revisit the compensation package that had been agreed upon earlier.
The Executive Director of Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG), Mr Richard Adjei-Poku, who was the Technical Advisor at the meeting, debunked the assertions by the company’s community relations manager that communities affected by mining should write to plead for compensations that were due them before they were paid.
He explained that based on Article 20 Clause 2 (a) of the 1992 Constitution, “Compulsory acquisition of property shall only be made under a law which makes provision for the prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation”.
He added that while Clause 3 of the same Act states, “A compulsory acquisition or possession of land affected by the state which involves displacement of any inhabitants, the state shall resettle the displaced inhabitants on suitable alternative land with due regard for their economic well-being and social and cultural values”.
Mr Adjei-Poku also read Section 72 sub-section 3 of the New Minerals and Mining Law of 2006, which states that “The amount of compensation payable shall be determined by agreement between the parties but if the parties are unable to reach an agreement as the amount of compensation, the matter shall be referred by either party to the minister who shall, in consultation with the government agency responsible for land valuation and subject to this Act, determine the compensation payable by the holder of the mineral right”, adding that at that level there as a provision which allowed any of the party who felt dissatisfied to go to court,” to buttress his point.
He, therefore, condemned the company’s decision that the RNC was the only body to deal with resettlement and relocation issues, and the statement that the community should write to the committee to revisit the compensation package they had already agreed on.
The executive director of LEG again stated that the RNC did not have the true representation of the communities affected by mining since some of the people serving on the committee were there on the ticket of ghost communities, (those which were no more in existence) such as Bonaa, Kwakyekrom, Subriagyei, among others.
Mr Adjei-Poku alleged that government officials such as those from the Town and Country Planning, Land Valuation Board, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Social Welfare, which were supposed to give advice, were rather taking the decisions in the interest of the company.
He, therefore, urged those officials to put a stop to that practice.
Mr Adjei-Poku called for the election of the moderator of the RNC by members representing all the affected communities instead of him or her being appointed by the mining company which always sides by its decisions to the detriment of the communities.