By Abubakari Seidu Ajarfor,
The violations, according to WACAM, still remains unresolved as a result of weak legislation that seems to protect the interest of mining companies as against the fundamental rights of mining communities.
Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, challenged senior journalists and participants to sensitize the public against illegal mining activities and advocacy that will inform citizens to demand for their rights in mining communities.
She has therefore taken into consideration the urgent need for stakeholder and policy makers to accept the internationally highly praised frameworks and policies.
These notwithstanding includes the ECOWAS Directives ?on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the mining section, African Charter on Human and Peoples? Right, Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (EITI) and using the Environmental Impact Assessment processes to minimize the menace in the mining sector.
Identifying the bad practices in the sector, she indicated that surface mining, cyanide spillage on water bodies, active pit and blasting into homes, forceful acquisition of lands, nepotism, are clear dangers the law failed to tackle.
Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng expressed worry that the weakness of the Mineral and Mining Act,? 2006 (Act 703) has give too much room for the multinational mining companies to operate freely thereby providing the fertile grounds for the industry players to exploit the state at the peril of human lives.
Addressing the gaps in the Minerals and Mining Act
Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, a Non-governmental Organisation has urged government and policy makers to quickly adopt the Polluter Pay Principle (PPP) and Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in activities that affect people in the mining communities.
She pointed out that no provision was made for Polluter Pay Principle in the Act and therefore, it is recommended that a polluter should be responsible for any mess deemed necessary in mining communities.
Mrs. Koranteng added that the community should be given Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in the event of mining activities from exploration to decommission of the mines.
Surface mining, she noted, causes serious environmental degradation and grant lease to companies carrying out only underground mining and therefore must be abolished.
According to her, the compulsory takeover of properties including farming lands from owners should be disallowed and employ the mechanism of protecting the owners interest.
She added that any mining companies that uses force to take someone?s land should be made to pay double compensation to the person in question.
She added water as a resource must be paid for when it is used for mining purposes taking into account the economic, environmental, social and cultural cost that mining will impose on society.
Mrs. Koranteng noted that royalties paid to the state by mining companies is not enough and therefore should be increased to 10-15% whiles non-payment of royalties and other fees be treated as an economic crime.
She stated that the discretionary powers by the minister to choose the special shareholder on lands acquisition encourage corruption and therefore must be abolished and be given to the community.
Government should desist from having opaque agreement with mining companies because that will render useless transparency rhetoric of government.
Mrs. Koranteng noted that the awareness on FPIC and PPP is low and therefore the media in particular should take a bold step by educating the public especially people in mining communities to demand for their human rights.