The Associate Executive Director of Wassa Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng has called on legislators to remove Section 17 of Act 703 from the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 and replace it with provisions that would protect water bodies in the country.
According to her, Section 17 of Act 703 gave a holder of a mining right the right “to obtain, divert, impound, and use water from a river, stream, underground reservoir or watercourse within the land, the subject of mineral right.”
She stated that the result of the provision has made water bodies become the first casualty of mining operations, adding that the provision was a recipe for destruction and blanket pollution of the country’s water bodies by mining operations, hence the need to repeal the section.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng was speaking in a presentation on gaps in the country’s mining laws and policies at a workshop organised for the media by WACAM.
The workshop was to educate them on the happenings in the extraction sector, especially community participation with regards to onshore oil and gas exploration as well as local content opportunities for people in communities affected by extractives.
Speaking on recommendations made by WACAM on mining community access to potable water, she stated that Ghana was gradually becoming a water-stressed nation, adding that the Act must be seen to be working towards the objective of protecting water bodies in mining communities and not otherwise.
“Because of this provision, research has established that about 90 per cent of 250 water bodies in Obuasi and Tarkwa areas are polluted with heavy metals,” she said.
She called for the incorporation of “the Polluter Pays Principle” (PPP) in the Minerals and Mining Act, where companies that pollute rivers must be made to pay for clean-up cost on the basis of the principle.
Speaking on recommendations by WACAM for women in the mining sector, Mrs Owusu-Koranteng called on government to ensure that all related laws and regulations governing the mining sector were reviewed to make them gender sensitive.
For his part, the Dean of the School for Development Studies of Cape Coast University, Dr Emmanuel Yamoah Tenkorang, noted in a presentation on his research on exploring local content potential for participation in gold, oil and gas exploitation in Ghana that most youth in mining and petroleum communities lacked the qualifications and expertise which could have enabled them to take advantage of employment opportunities in the extraction firms.
He stated that even though the law required the firms to employ such youth, most of them could not be employed.
Dr Yaw Asamoah, a lecturer from the Geology Department, University of Education, Winneba, who spoke on a study on community rights in onshore petroleum exploration in Ghana, noted that most decisions taken in the mining sector were without community members.
He stated that the low level of participation of the communities on the decisions of the exploration and the conditions under which it was undertaken in the districts was directly against the principle of self-determination.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA