Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, has said it is wrong to assume that because the large multinational mining companies are regulated, their activities do not destroy the environment.
She said the scale of the “Galamsey” menace should be regarded as part of the larger problem of irresponsible mining which has engulfed the nation resulting in the pollution of rivers, destruction of the environment and creating serious social, environmental and economic legacies for mining communities in the country.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng was speaking at a workshop for journalists in Accra held under the theme: “Amplifying Community Voices for Responsible Mining, the Role of the Media.”
She said irresponsible mining activities in the country over the past three decades have brought about detrimental effects on the development of the country.
For this reason, the forum seeks to create an opportunity for media personnel and like-minded stakeholders to influence the process of ensuring sanity in the mining sector by making recommendations that would feed into government’s policy action for lasting solutions.
She said the nation opened its doors too wide to attract mining investment through generous incentives to multinational mining companies to undertake surface mining operations without developing strong laws to regulate mining operations.
The result had been loss of livelihood, displacement of about 100,000 landlords, pollution of many rivers, the exacerbation of poverty in mining communities, destruction of forest reserves among others, she said.
She said it is important that journalists broaden the scope of the fight against illegal mining operations to cover the broad spectrum of issues in irresponsible mining.
She said the influx of multinational mining companies was associated with large redundancies in the existing underground mining operations and expressed solidarity with the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) in matters relating to the redundancy of 1,700 workers of Gold Fields Ghana Limited.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said the decision to declare 1,700 workers redundant in her opinion was motivated by the desire of the company to reap super normal profit.
“We wish to remind Goldfields Ghana Limited and all mining companies in the country that it has benefited from the windfall profits for many years which has been repatriated to shareholders outside Ghana. “The company cannot use current operational problems to justify the decision to declare the workers redundant,” she said.
She urged Ghanaians to support the struggle of the GMWU against the redundancy of the 1,700 workers who have families and dependents to cater for.
Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, a Communications Consultant, speaking at the event, said mining communities over the years have experienced various challenges.
She said mining was a rootless exercise and all investors who come to engage in this activity do not love the country but rather want to take away the minerals just like the slave trade regime.
She said God has blessed this country abundantly with resources but until the right structures, policies, laws and people were used and implemented, mining would not leave any positive legacy in the respective communities and regions. Dr Dartey said responsible mining should be comprehensive and open, should respect the rights of all, ensure multistakeholder engagement, must be environmentally friendly, free from human health impacts, embrace best international practices, uphold rule of law and its enforcement, should be safe for all.
She, therefore, urged journalists to use their professional ethics to report on these issues as it was of major concern to help comfort the afflicted in society.