Concerned Farmers Association Clashes with Newmont Over Land Rights

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The Concerned Farmers Association has issued a scathing response to Newmont’s recent media release regarding the arrest and detention of some of its members. In a Press Conference addressed by Mr. John Mensah, Chairman of the Concern Farmers Association, at Terchire in the Tano North Municipality of Ahafo Region, the association refuted Newmont’s claims and highlighted what they see as a pattern of unlawful activities and human rights violations by the mining company in the Tano North District.

Access to Lands at the Heart of the Dispute

One of the key issues in the ongoing dispute revolves around access to lands owned or occupied by members of the Concerned Farmers Association.

The association cites a meeting in December 2022, initiated by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, where it was agreed that a land parcel survey would be conducted to identify the boundaries of affected farmers’ lands. However, Newmont allegedly deviated from this decision, opting instead for a built assets survey, which was vehemently opposed by the farmers.

Despite assurances from the Minister’s representatives, the land parcel survey has not been carried out. The association claims that Newmont has entered its members’ lands without consent, destroying teak trees, cocoa farms, palm trees, and food crops, causing financial hardship to the affected farmers.

Controversial Legal Proceedings and Alleged Misrepresentation

Concerns were raised about the legal proceedings initiated by Newmont against some members of the association. While Newmont claimed that a court order prohibited the accused from entering the mining area, the association disputes this, citing court records that do not support such a claim. The farmers assert that Newmont’s actions and statements reveal a lack of respect for the legal process and the judiciary.

Compulsory Land Acquisition and Destruction

The government’s declaration of its intention to compulsorily acquire land for mining and related purposes has added another layer of tension to the situation. While no lands have been officially acquired for Newmont’s mining operations, farmers allege that agents of the company have already destroyed their farm properties on these lands. The farmers argue that this premature destruction hinders their ability to claim fair compensation for their losses.

A Call for Justice and Fair Compensation

The Concerned Farmers Association insists that its members are law-abiding citizens who have invested significantly in their farms.

They pledge to continue using lawful means to protect their investments and demand respect for their rights under Ghanaian law. The association also called on the relevant authorities to intervene and address the ongoing issues.

As tensions continue to rise between the Concerned Farmers Association and Newmont, the local community watches closely, hoping for a resolution that ensures justice and fair compensation for those affected by the mining operations.

Company Addresses Allegations of Uncooperative Farmers and Disruption of Land Activities

Newmont Africa on 13th September, 2023 released a statement in response to previous media reports regarding the recent arrest of some members of the Concerned Farmers Association within the Ahafo North Project’s mining area. The company expressed concern about allegations suggesting collusion with the police and emphasized its commitment to responsible and sustainable project development while respecting human rights.

Land Access and Claims

Newmont Africa underscored its commitment to progressing the Ahafo North Project with due regard for the rights of all impacted parties. The company cited successful land access, having obtained over 98% of the land required for project construction.

Compensation agreements were reached with approximately 2,500 farmers and landowners through negotiations and agreements facilitated by the Resettlement and Crop Rate Negotiation Committees, comprising representatives from impacted farmers, property owners, traditional leaders, as well as community and government officials.

However, 21 members of the Concerned Farmers Association have declined to accept the outcomes of these negotiations and have refused to allow enumeration of their farms and structures. Despite extensive engagement and mediation efforts, including interventions by respected traditional leaders and youth representatives, this group has insisted on individual negotiations that could potentially lead to compensation rates significantly higher than professional and government valuation rates, creating a discrepancy with the already compensated 2,500 farmers.

Disruption of Land Activities and Uncompensated Land

The company has faced disruptions in its land-clearing activities due to the actions of some members of the Concerned Farmers Association. Newmont Africa has primarily responded by engaging in good faith dialogues aimed at reducing tensions and promoting peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, Newmont Africa acknowledged an incident in which its exploration team inadvertently impacted an uncompensated farm. In response, the company engaged with the affected party and initiated discussions to address the situation.

The company reiterated its commitment to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to find mutually beneficial resolutions to the challenges encountered in the Ahafo North Project’s mining area. Newmont Africa emphasized its dedication to maintaining strong relationships with the community and fulfilling its social and environmental responsibilities throughout the project’s lifecycle.

This statement from Newmont Africa follows recent concerns raised by the Concerned Farmers Association regarding land access, compensation, and alleged disruptions caused by the mining company. As discussions and negotiations continue, local stakeholders and the broader public watch closely for further developments in this ongoing issue, which highlights the complexities of balancing economic development with the protection of the rights and livelihoods of affected communities.

Farmers Allege Intimidation and Bullying Tactics by Mining Giant

The Concerned Farmers Association has strongly refuted claims of formal engagement with Newmont Africa, countering allegations made by the mining company.

The farmers have accused Newmont of spreading misinformation to garner public and government sympathy, alleging that the company has resorted to intimidating and bullying tactics, particularly through security agencies, against the farmers.

Denial of Engagement

Contrary to Newmont Africa’s assertion of successful negotiations and agreements with a majority of impacted farmers, the Concerned Farmers Association has categorically denied any formal engagement with the mining company.

The association maintains that its members have not entered into discussions or negotiations regarding compensation for land use or any other related matters.

Accusations of Falsehood and Intimidation

In a pointed rebuttal, the farmers have accused Newmont of peddling falsehoods with the intent of influencing public opinion and government action in its favour.

The association alleges that Newmont has been employing security agencies to intimidate and bully vulnerable farmers who have been affected by the Ahafo North Project.

The farmers claim that they have faced harassment and pressure from various quarters, with security agencies allegedly being used as instruments of coercion.

Community Watches Closely for Resolution

As tensions continue to rise between the Concerned Farmers Association and Newmont, the local community watches closely, hoping for a resolution that ensures justice and fair compensation for those affected by the mining operations.

The dispute has cast a spotlight on issues related to land rights, corporate responsibility, and the rights of local communities in resource-rich areas. It serves as a reminder of the importance of balancing economic development with the protection of the livelihoods and rights of those directly impacted by such activities.

The Concerned Farmers Association remains steadfast in its pursuit of justice and compensation, and their determination to safeguard their lands and livelihoods echoes the concerns of many communities facing similar challenges.

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