Newmont Ghana says it is committed to transparently engaging and partnering with local communities to improve lives and mitigate impacts associated with its operations.
It said this was in line with the Company’s purpose to create value and improve lives through sustainable and responsible mining and welcomes all well-intentioned input to enhance mining’s benefits to local communities.
Paul Sowley, Newmont Ghana’s Senior Director for Sustainability and External Relations, in response to allegations made in the media on reports developed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), WACAM and Ford Foundation said: “Protecting and promoting the health and welfare of our employees and local communities is a top priority for us.
“We are currently studying the accuracy of the reports and will provide further information once we complete the review.
“Our review will include following up with the reports’ authors to better understand their data collection, analysis and assessment methods, which seem to lack the scientific rigour to support their conclusions.”
Newmont Ghana’s mitigation programmes in Ahafo, namely the Agricultural Improvement and Land Access Programme, Vulnerable Peoples’ Programme and Skills Development Improvement Programme, have supported more than 10,000 people.
In addition, the Company has installed new wells, monitored ground water supplies, improved sanitation and worked closely with local communities on monitoring and protecting water quality.
The Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation, which has accrued more than GH¢ 54.2 million, is positively enhancing lives with the award of more than 8,000 scholarships, 100 infrastructure projects (including schools, libraries, health facilities and potable water projects).
The Foundation also has given out micro-credit support to approximately 1,500 beneficiaries, most of them women.
Newmont has undertaken deliberate efforts to empower women in all spheres of development. From its inception, the Ahafo mine instituted a gender mainstreaming policy to guide all social development interventions.
In addition to the formation of a Women Consultative Committee, which has had tremendous impact on women in the 10 host communities, there has been an appreciable level of inclusion of women in the local economy.
More than 40 per cent of scholarships and 98 per cent of micro-credit beneficiaries from women have been women.
Newmont recognises that there remain opportunities to improve lives and mitigate impacts. Through ongoing, transparent and responsible partnership with local communities, the company will help create value and improve lives through sustainable and responsible mining.
The company’s reaction was a research report conducted by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) indicating that the operations of Newmont Ahafo Mine in the Asutifi North District had adversely impacted the lives of women in the mine communities.
According to the report, since the multi-national mining company started actual mining operations around 2006, women had been denied access to especially potable drinking water, farmlands and other means of socio-economic livelihood.
The Department of Environmental Science of UCC in collaboration with Water Research Institute (WRI) and the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) conducted the report in the area within six months.
It was funded by WACAM, which works to promote responsible mining in the country.
Launching the report at Kenyase number two, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, a Senior Lecturer at the UCC expressed worry about the debilitating effects of mining on the lives of the local people.
He underlined the importance for traditional rulers in the area, Newmont Ahafo mine and the District Assembly to collaborate and device realistic interventions to address the needs of the people before something unexpected happened.
Mr. Samuel Obiri, a Senior Research Scientist at the WRI observed that some water bodies in the mining communities had been polluted because of the activities of the Ahafo mine.
He said the health effects of exposure to cyanide, mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium had serious health effects on the human body.
Mr Obiri, who is the Executive Director of the CEIA, cited that the two boreholes constructed for residents at Manu Shed, a farming community had high content of acid, which were very harmful.
He said most of the boreholes in the communities had been contaminated with chemicals and contained high pH levels.