Mining

Pressure group demonstrates to resist mining of bauxite in Atewa forest

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A group calling itself the Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape today, Tuesday, January 21, 2020, demonstrated against the government’s move to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest reserve.

This comes weeks after A Rocha Ghana served notice of its intention to file a civil suit against the government over the decision to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest.

This is not the first time a group is kicking against the government’s plan of mining in the forest.

The Government of Ghana, in a Sinohydro deal with China, is expected to trade off bauxite worth US$2 billion to be used on infrastructure including roads, bridges, interchanges, hospitals, housing and rural electrification.

The protestors of today’s march were drawn from communities such as Adukrom, Anyinam, Asamankese, and Kwabeng.

They were in Kyebi to present a petition to the MCE of the area for onward submission to government.

In March 2019, they walked a distance of 95km from Bunso junction in the Eastern Region to the Jubilee House to drum home their concern.

Some of the protestors who spoke to Citi News were totally incensed about the development.

“How can you take away our lives and say you are protecting us? The government is going for a loan and it decides to sell off what gives its citizens life. So, we are pleading with the government to have mercy on us and leave our oxygen for us to breathe.”

“It is like the government is adamant so the only thing we can tell them is that they should stop what they are doing. We are going to petition the MCE that we don’t want the bauxite to be mined,” another protestor said.

 

In June 2019, a group of mainly environmental activists marched through the streets of the Ghanaian capital, Accra, eventually presenting a petition to Parliament asking that the deal to mine in the forest be called off.

Suit

A Rocha in a letter addressed to the Attorney General’s Department urged government to rescind its decision else it will go to court.

A Rocha was seeking a declaration that “mining of bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest violates the right to life and dignity as enshrined under Articles 13 and 15 of the Constitution of Ghana (1992).”

It also wanted an “order compelling government and its agents to take the necessary steps to protect Atewa Forest in accordance with its constitutional obligations as contained under article 36(9) of the Constitution (1992). An order, restraining the government of Ghana, its assigns and agents, servants, workmen, allottees and guarantees whatsoever and howsoever described from undertaking mining and its related activities in the Atewa Range Forest.”

This was captured in a letter A Rocha through its lawyer, Martin Kpebu, wrote to the Attorney General’s Department last week.

A Rocha’s concerns

A Rocha Ghana and other stakeholders have been calling for the protection of the Atewa Forest as Ghana prepares to commence the first phase of the Sinohydro deal.

With the commercial mining of the bauxite set to commence this year [2020], there has been rising agitation from some groups within the country and externally as well, especially from environmental and wildlife conservation groups over the fate of the Atewa Forest, where about 165 million tonnes of bauxite is estimated to be located.

 

Government’s promise

While the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources at the time, Kweku Asomah Cheremeh promised to “look at the issues they have raised in their petition”, the government still made moves towards implementing the deal as a private firm had been contracted to undertake the confirmatory drilling in the forest.

Several other bodies including A ROCHA Ghana, who have been fierce critics of the Sinohydro deal, the Christian Council of Ghana and the US Forest Service who provided some technical advice have urged the government to consider the potential ramifications of mining in the forest, one of most detrimental being the destruction of the sources of water for about five million people.

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