Nana Awulae Angama Tu-agyani reiterated the resolve of the traditional council and the youth to protect their land and farms. Zubaida Mabuno Ismail, 2023
Chiefs, queen mothers, elders, youth, and the entire Gwira traditional council in Ghana’s western region are demanding that the minister of lands and natural resources revoke the Okobeng Mining Company’s license.
The chiefs, led by the president of the Gwira traditional council, Nana Awulae Angama Tu-agyani II, gave the sector minister, Mr Samuel A. Jinapor, 14 days to act on their demands or face the wrath of the chiefs and youth in a press conference in Accra on February 2nd.
According to the traditional council in the Western Region’s Nzema East Municipality, the Okoben Mining Company has been engaged in illegal mining activities in the area since 2016, resulting in the destruction of forest covers, farms, and the pollution of water bodies.
They listed 12 negative consequences of Okobeng’s mining activities, including pollution of the Ankobra River, the area’s main source of water supply. The mining company that took over the concessions of Blue River and West Star Mining destroyed tracks of cocoa, cassava, plantain, and cash crop farmlands.
Several meetings between the chiefs, the Ghana Police Service, the district assembly, the minerals commission offices in Tarkwa and Accra, and the ministry have produced no results, according to the chiefs, as the mining company continues to commit illegalities.
“Our traditional council includes well-placed chiefs from the security and judiciary sectors. Similarly, our youth are warriors, and we can deal with Okobeng in our own way, but because we are law-abiding citizens, we chose to engage in dialogue, including reporting the issue to the minerals commission and the ministry, but nothing has come of it,” Nana Awulae Angama Tu-agyani II told journalists.
According to the chief, engaging the media was a last resort. As a result, they are issuing a warning to the mining company that they do not subscribe to its operations in their traditional area.
The Okobeng mining company was granted a license by the minerals commission in 2016 to prospect for gold in the Gwira Traditional Area on a concession previously owned by the Blue River and West Star mining companies for the prospecting of large-scale gold mining.
Instead, since its arrival in the area in September of that year, the mining company has engaged in illegal small-scale mining. Mr Okobeng Amponsah, the company’s managing director, has since declined all calls by the traditional council to halt mining operations.
“He has rather brought in heavily armed guards to intimidate us to the point where our women are unable to collect even a small quantity of earth to maintain their cookstoves,” a visibly irritated chief said. “Today, our farmers are unable to go to their farms because they will be attacked by armed men, and he has ignored our summons to the palace.”
Not only is the mining company mining rather than prospecting, but it has also refused to reclaim lands creating death traps in the area. Again, the Okobeng Mining Company has refused to compensate farmers whose lands have been destroyed.
“When Nananom requested land compensation in 2019, the company issued a dull cheque,” Nana Tu-agyan II revealed. “We are dealing with unusual skin diseases,” he added.
Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act
According to Section 1 of Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703), “Every mineral in its natural state in, under, or upon land in Ghana, rivers, streams, and watercourses throughout the country, the exclusive economic zone, and an area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the Republic’s property and is held in trust for the people of Ghana by the President.
According to Section 2, “When land is required for the development or utilization of a mineral resource, the President may acquire the land or authorize its occupation and use under an applicable enactment in force at the time.
The traditional council has directed its caution to the minister of lands and natural resources Mr Samuel A. Jinapor because section 5 of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 grants him the sole authority to issue or revoke the license of a mining company.
“…the Minister on behalf of the President and on the recommendation of the Commission may negotiate, grant, revoke, suspend or renew mineral rights in accordance with this Act.”
Okobeng Mining Company is not listed by the Minerals Commission
On the 3rd of February 2023, a search of the Minerals Commission’s list of mining companies issued licenses for gold prospecting revealed that Okobeng Mining Company was not among the three hundred and four companies listed.
By: Zubaida Mabuno Ismail/ www.zamireports.com/ Accra