Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister, has advised agitating gold mining communities to follow the appropriate procedures to get their demands addressed rather than resorting to violence, which was inimical to peace and security at the communities.
He said in recent times, the office of the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council (UWRCC) had received petitions from some Azumah Resources Limited’s host communities in the region, demanding stricter monitoring of the activities of Azumah Resources in the region.
Some of the petitioners were also demanding that Azumah Resources Ltd should cede some specific portions of its concession to the community for community mining.
The Regional Minister said this during a stakeholder engagement in Wa organised by the UWRCC in collaboration with Azumah Resources Ltd, a gold mining company that had been operating in the region for about 17 years now prospecting for gold.
The meeting was to create a platform for the stakeholders in the region, particularly the Azumah Resources Ltd host communities and the company to interact to solve the differences between the company and the community members.
The President and Vice President of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs, representatives of the Azumah Resources mining communities, some Members of Parliament, Municipal and District Chief Executives, the Ghana Journalists Association, and other stakeholders attended the meeting.
Dr. Salih indicated that the stakeholders in the region would work with the company and the agitating communities to ensure that the demands of those communities were met but through the appropriate and legally acceptable means.
He said as mandated by law; the mining company would cede parts of its concessions for community mining but said: “What we will not allow is illegal mining.”
The Minister also urged the Minerals Commission in the region to step up its sensitisation efforts of the communities to mining-related issues in the country, including the legal frameworks and guiding principles in getting their grievance with mining companies amicably settled.
Some of the participants expressed fear that Azumah Resources Ltd might be hiding behind the concept of prospecting to be extracting the gold in their communities without fulfilling its legal commitments of compensating farmers who might have lost their farmlands to the mining activities.
Mr Solomon Dery, the Community Relations Manager of Azumah Resources Ltd, indicated that discussions were ongoing with the necessary stakeholders to ensure a win-win situation between the mining company and the agitating communities and for the benefit of the country.
He stressed that the company had not yet commenced commercial mining as purported by some sections of the public but that the company had secured two mining leases to commence mine construction at the Kuuchebebog and Julee in the Nadowli-Kaleo and Wa East Districts, respectively.
He said as soon as the necessary funding had been secured the construction would begin and the country, the host districts, and the communities would begin to reap the benefits of the company’s mining activities.
Mr Dery indicated that the company would contribute to the development of the country and the local economies as well as provide jobs for the teaming unemployed youth and general community development through its Corporate Social Responsibilities.
“We will also be fulfilling our commitments to the Assemblies anytime they call on us. Even though Azumah Resources is not making a profit on our exploration activities, we are able to undertake some sustainable community development projects in the area of health, education agriculture, water and sanitation, sports, and culture,” he explained.