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SENSITISATION WORKSHOPS

Sensitation workshop on Minesite Assessment Tool visit to Manso Aponopon & Adansi Kenya (Ashanti Region), Tongo near Bolgatanga (Upper East Region), Ayamfuri (Western North Region), Osino (Eastern Region)

By Wunderf

Introduction

 

The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) was formed in January 2011 as a research and advocacy non-governmental organization primarily focused on providing research backbone to Ghana’s extractive industry. The organization is headquartered in Obuasi in the Ashanti Region with an office in Takoradi, the Western Regional capital that focuses on the oil and gas industry.

In the past ten years, our mission to influence policy change in favour of communities impacted by the operations of extractive companies has been tremendously executed as CeSIS has become the sole mouthpiece of mining affected communities in Obuasi and adjoining districts especially on compensation, environmental and human rights issues. Officials of CeSIS have also travelled around the world sharing the organization’s experiences with students, researchers, civil society actors, government officials, and the business community.

Our Approach in using the Mine site Assessment Tool (MSAT)

Our approach has been using the MSAT to build the capacity of the locals especially the marginalized to lead their own advocacy.
Inclusiveness
In all our meetings, a minimum of 40 percent of participants are women. We deliberately ensured that women had a voice at every meeting and encourage them to speak up and participate actively.

Manso Aponapono

1. This is a community located 60 kilometres north-west of Obuasi, the ancient mining community in the Ashanti Region. Manso Aponapono lies within the Apapram Forest Reserve, which used to be one of the very few remaining Forest Reserves in Ghana. The entire Manso Traditional area is rich in gold deposits, and as a result illegal mining is rampant. The residents of this small community of about 2,500 people are mainly farmers (cocoa, coffee and food crop farmers). Unemployment is very high among the youth, and as a result most of them are involved in illegal mining. Apart from the numerous illegal mining sites, there is one large scale Ghanaian company operating in the area, Goldline Company Limited. Goldline Limited has been operating since 2012.
2. CeSIS held a sensitization workshop for the community last year. The workshop was attended by about 30 community members who were mostly farmers. The CeSIS team took turns to take the participants through the Mine Site Assessment Tool (MSAT) and the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703). It was a very lively encounter, with participants asking a broad range of questions, especially issues related to how they can use the MSAT to engage the mining company operating in their area.
3. The key issues that emerged from the meeting included the following:
• Very limited engagement between the mining company and the community
• Destruction of farmlands without the payment of adequate compensation
• Pollution of water bodies by the company
• Dust pollution by vehicles belonging to the company. The company has refused to water the road periodically to suppress the dust
• Refusal of the company to employ the local youth
• Abandoned pits on people’s farmlands where some people have fallen in them and died
Even though some of the issues fall outside the MSAT, CeSIS decided to assist the community get redress for their grievances.

Interventions

• The first action taken was to write a petition to Ghana’s Minerals Commission (the regulatory body of the mining sector) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Accra. CeSIS facilitated the process whilst the community led.
• Following the receipt of his copy of the petition, the District Chief Executive (highest local politician representing the President) called an emergency meeting of the District Security Council to discuss the petition submitted by the community members.
• The Member of Parliament of the area as well as representatives of Goldline Company Limited were present at the meeting.
• It is important to note that this is the first time that the local authorities have held a meeting with members of the community. The community members were asked to present their petition before the Security Council (made up of the heads of all security agencies in the district like the Police, Army, Prisons Service, Immigration, Fire Service, etc.). After the representative of the community had finished doing his presentation, the company officials were asked to respond. The meeting ended with the establishment of a joint committee made up of representatives of the District Assembly, Member of Parliament, mining company and community members that would undertake a visit to the community to ascertain the issues for themselves.
4. About a month later, the Minerals Commission Officer in charge of Community Engagement stationed in Kumasi also got in touch with the community. He has so far visited the community twice and is currently engaging the affected community farmers and the company on the payment of adequate and fair compensation

Ayamfuri

1. The Ayamfuri community is located 43 kilometres west of Obuasi. It is a commercial town, with most women involved in trading activities. High unemployment levels among the youth have led to increased rate of illegal mining. One large scale multinational mining company operates in Ayamfuri, Perseus Mining Company. It is an Australian company.

2. CeSIS had a sensitization workshop with the Ayamfuri community where participants were taken through the MSAT and Minerals and Mining Act.

3. The participants raised several issues that they wanted addressed. Most of them were Labour related. For instance,
• Refusal of the company to employ local youth
• Low salary levels
• Lack of transparency in salary negotiations
• There were also concerns with air and water quality

4. Following this sensitization workshop, a group was constituted to take steps to use the MSAT to address their grievances.

5. The Assembly Member and the group that was constituted from the participants, have had three meetings with the Chiefs on the Assessment tool. They have also had two successful meetings with Perseus Mines on the issues raised at our meeting with them especially employment of the locals. Perseus Mines will be going underground soon so the community is demanding immediate training of the locals in underground mining because according to their leader they do not have the required skills. To him this is the pressing issue currently but they are in dialogue. He says other issues on water, air and tailings are being resolved by company.

Tongo (Talensi Nabdam)

Tongo is a small town near the Upper East regional capital of Bolgatanga, and Tongo is the capital of Talensi District, a district in the Upper East Region of Northern part of Ghana. Tongo is known for the, Tengzug shrine, and for its sowing and harvest festivals.
After doing a step-by-step discussion of the thematic areas in the tool, the following issues were raised
1. No clear information on local content policy from the mine
2. Locals are not employed
3. Workers and Managers of the mine do all their shopping in the Regional Capital
4. The only lady who is employed is a cook
5. Some animals have died as results of drinking from the mine tailings. The tailings were not fenced but we were told they are fencing it currently
6. About two new companies may start operations soon
7. Poor relationship between the community and the company
8. Labour issues with former workers
The team also submitted a copy of the Assessment tool to the Shaanxi Mining Limited after engaging the deputy PRO on phone.

Conclusion

Manso Aponapono is a shining example that the MSAT can be used to build the capacity of the marginalized in mining affected communities to voice out.  A focus on the MSAT can enable and build the confidence of the locals so they can drive the engagement process with regulatory bodies, mining companies and government.

The Observatory Project

Introduction

Multinational mining in Obuasi has existed for 124 years, since the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation was born. Owned by a British merchant, Sir Edwin Arthur Cade, AGC operated in Ghana under various ownership arrangements till its merger with AngloGold of South Africa in 2004. In the 1980s and 1990s, the company undertook extensive surface mining operations under the Ashanti Mine Expansion Project (AMEP).

The long years of operating the mine has left a legacy of environmental and social problems in the communities. For instance, almost all water bodies in and around Obuasi have been polluted. Farmlands have been degraded and thousands of residents relocated from their ancestral lands. 

The state, through institutions like the Minerals Commission and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has demonstrated a weakness in managing these environmental issues on behalf of the communities. For instance, poor marginalised communities are asked to negotiate with a giant multinational company like AngloGold Ashanti. 

A key challenge the communities encountered in such negotiations is the absence of quality data to reinforce their case. The data that exist are also not deemed credible. This effectively weakens the case of the communities.

The Center for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), with funding from the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) started a six-month pilot project to build the capacity of selected communities to collect credible data on the impacts of mining in three main districts: Obuasi Municipal, Amansie Central and Obuasi East.

Objective

The objective of the Observatory Project is to collect real time data that will be used for advocacy purposes on behalf of mining affected communities. The project seeks to draw the attention of duty bearers to the challenges and problems faced by mining-affected communities.

Activities

• A one-day non-residential training was organised for twenty (20) community facilitators. The training built the capacity of the facilitators on how to collect real time data using their phones.

• Another training has been successfully organised for twenty (20) stakeholders in the project implementation districts. The training brought together traditional leaders, youth groups, media practitioners among others

• The project team had a radio panel discussion on Shaft Radio on the Morning Show programme. The one-hour discussion centered on the overview of the project, the impact of mining on communities and how communities can address their grievances using evidence-based approach.

• The CeSIS team embarked on field trip to 3 communities to engage the local facilitators. The team ceased the opportunity to engage the community members through their local information Centers. Ahwiaso, Anyinam and Kokotesua have been visited so far.

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