Shandong Gold Limited (Cardinal), a mining company in Digaare in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region, has been served notice to engage in responsible mining, else they will be made to halt their operations.
The mining company has been accused of breach of contract; gross neglect and disrespect to chiefs in the affected communities where their operations have displaced thousands of folks; trespassing, among others.
The Divisional Chief of Namoalug, Naba Kolsong Na-laam Nyuureb, made these accusations against the company in a news conference held at his palace in Namoalug Friday.
The chief who addressed the media through the youth leader, Isaac Somma, said the action taken by management of the company to take decisions in compensating the affected people was akin to an illegality, and undermining of his authority.
The chief added that, mining communities such as Digaare (Accra site), Tola, Nung and Bapela were under his jurisdiction, and the company’s decision to ignore implementing his suggestions as regards the payment of compensations could trigger some hostile relationship between them.
Naba Nyuureb further stated that none of his sub-chiefs in the affected mining communities had any knowledge on the resettlement agreement and the Alternative Livelihood Programme Agreement, and challenged Cardinal Mining Group to furnish his palace with evidence that they had met some chiefs and landowners (Tindaamas) to seal a deal on that.
“The company (Shandong Gold Limited) formed resettlement and compensations committees which we applauded them. However, according to Minerals and Mining Regulations 2174, we engaged a consultant to act on our behalf in the negotiations in a letter signed by a chief, youth leader, Tindaana and Assemblyman.
“The company after acknowledging receipt of our letter, failed to utilize our consultant, hence went about compensating people for their houses and farms on unassessed, unapproved and unaccepted rates”, the chief lamented.
Another issue the chief brought to light was the fact that the company refused to employ the local people who had the requisite qualifications, accusing it of breaching the provisions of Local Content and Local Participation Regulations 3124.
He said he had made efforts to engage Shandong Gold Ltd to, as it were, establish proper standing Employment Committee in order that some of the idle youth were recruited, but he had been disregarded and snobbed
He again alleged that the mining company which was given a land space of 19.2 kilometres to operate went ahead to illegally acquire additional hectares, and were operating on a land space of 64 km, “and it is clear that, they have added much lands from Tola, Nung, and Bapela”.
While giving a stern warning to the Shandong Gold Ltd to do the needful, the chief charged the Minerals Commission to swiftly investigate the company’s ill actions, adding the youth and chiefs of the affected areas were not far from storming the company’s concession to stop them from their construction works.
Naba Nyuureb, however, recommended the company suspend their employment models until an employment agreement was signed with employment committee set up by the mining communities and the company.
He also advised that all compensation packages were withheld till a thorough assessment was conducted by a Rate Assessment Committee.
The company’s Community Social Responsibility Officer, Kofi Adusei, in his response, said they had engaged every chief and opinion leader on resettlement and compensation issues, contrary to the Namoalug Chief’s claim they took unilateral decision so long as the resettlement issues were concerned.
Mr Adusei also refuted the allegation of trespassing, saying the community had no idea about the amount of kilometres of land that was offered them by the Minerals Commission, so they had no locus to question them on issues of trespassing.
“It is the Minerals Commission that gives concessions, not chiefs, and we don’t need to respond to some of these things. You can find out from the Digaare Chief; you can also find out from the Minerals Commission for their appropriate response”, he added, and indicated they had vowed to engage in responsible gold prospecting and mining, and would never disappoint the community in that regard.
FROM FRANCIS DABRE DABANG, NAMOALUG