Stakeholders in the extractive space call for more action from government

Stakeholders at a multi-stakeholder dialogue on extractive governance have called on regulators in that space to ensure the effective implementation of policies and guidelines to improve upon the health of the environment. They also noted the need for the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to visit portions of the laws on the extractive industry that needed revision to see that the country benefited more from these agreements. Others also complained of the lack of proper decentralisation, which had affected local and grassroots socioeconomic development particularly in areas where these resources have been mined and extracted over centuries. The stakeholder’s dialogue was organised by Friends of the Nation (FON) in collaboration with WACAM to enhance participants’ knowledge on basic laws on community rights in extractive governance in Ghana, United Nations guiding principles on human rights and FPIC. The event was under a project titled: ‘Fair4All’. Critical among discussions was the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principles on certain specific rights relating to indigenous communities to withhold consent to a project that affected their areas. Mr John Abakah an official from FoN, noted, mining, forestry, and petroleum (on-shore and off-shore activities) constituted sources of revenue for the state which must advance and be carefully utilized to fix the needs of the people on whose stead the government stood to make those international agreement. Meanwhile, despite the benefits that resource extraction brought to industries and the state, their activities had environmental and social costs, thus affecting the ecological wellbeing and human health. Madam Joana Akosua Manu, WACAM activist from Dumasi near Prestea, complained about resettlement plans of mining companies which sometimes had impact on the human rights of the communities. She added: ‘Operating without the support and trust of the local communities can lead to violence, litigation, operational delays, project closure and both financial and human loss.’ The Executive Director, Center for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA), Dr Samuel Obiri, noted that, zero impact from mining was impossible, but ‘how we manage it should be a priority among all stakeholders.’ He told participants that Ghana was blessed with minerals including gold, manganese, lithium, kaolin, and oil potentials in the Voltain basin. Dr Obiri was saddened that the country still looked elsewhere for economic emancipation as a resource endowed nation…’the question is, how have we used these natural resources for our development…In term of royalties, no company paid more than 2.6 percent’. Pointing out some weaknesses in the Minerals and Mining Act, he explained how Ghana’s laws and policies, land architecture, continued to undermine principles of human rights, transparency, social equity. Quoting from Section 1 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 706 and Article 257(6) of the 1992 Constitution, Dr Obiri noted ‘Every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon land in Ghana- is vested in the President in trust for the people of Ghana. The Act does not involve the participation of host communities in the decision of grant a mini g right.’ He also spoke about destruction of the environment and cultural livelihood in communities. Dr Obiri noted how underground water and rivers were being polluted due to bad environmental practices resulting in skin, kidney, and other cancerous health conditions. Dr Obiri raised awareness on mining in forest reserves and migrating species and queried, ‘Can the Buabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary and migration of elephant along the north up to Bia areas, co -exist with the operation of oil and gas. At Ajenua -Bepo Forest Reserves, there are 926 flora species and 22 fauna species.’

Source: Ghana News Agency