The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has dispelled claims by residents of Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region that they have not been dealt with properly with regards to activities of the bauxite enclave there.
According to him, government has not even completed the necessary procedures to obtain the information needed for stakeholder consultations and the way forward hence, the concerns raised by the local authorities are misinformed.
Residents of communities in and around Nyinahin have expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of plans to mine bauxite in the area especially on how the concession was allegedly awarded without their input.
The elders and the youth say the government has not engaged leaders of the communities in any dialogue to settle on how the mining activity under the $2 billion Synohydro deal will benefit community members.
But speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah maintained that, the communities in question would be engaged after the validation of the volume of bauxite in the enclave.
“Let us ask whether any concession has been given out. Their claim is a false premise because no concession has been given out. The state is seeking to validate the volume [of bauxite] that we have there. When you validate those ones, you go to the next step of giving a lease to a company possibly to mine that bauxite. That lease will contain all other environmental impact assessment that needs to be done by the EPA before you give out that lease for a particular development project to be done. So if anyone says that a concession has been given without consulting them, then that person is misinformed. If you say a lease has been given; then to who?”
“There is no body who has been given a lease. The state through its own express is seeking to validate the quantum. When we are done, we will get to the next stage. For example, if you are going to give a lease, the necessary consultations between local authorities will take place because all mineral resources are vested in the President on behalf of the Republic. At this stage, the state needs to validate the quantum before it proceeds with any kind of further conversation”, he added.
Concerns raised by residents
Research shows that bauxite mining at Nyinahin could last for over 150 to 300 years; and is estimated at $45 billion.
This is significantly longer than at Atewa where, according to research, bauxite can only be mined for 30 years.
But the estimated impact of the bauxite in Nyinahin, along with Awaso, and Tabi Offin, will not be as significantly damaging as mining in a watershed Atewa that provides water for five million Ghanaians.
A member of the Nyinahin Elders Association and the Odikro of Yawberema, Nana Boakye Ansah said a discussion of that sort will help secure a better future for the generations in and around Nyinahin.
“[We] want to seat on a table with the government, produce papers for an agreement and send to Parliament so it can be a source of confidence between the people of Nyinahin and surrounding areas and the government of Ghana so that in the near future, even if we are dead, our children can have some benefit from the bauxite.”
In June 2017, the government announced that Ghana will establish an integrated aluminium industry by mining and refining its bauxite deposits, particularly in the Nyinahini enclave.
The Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation, a Public holding company has been established and entrusted with the management and development of bauxite.
Request for proposals to select a mining company and an off-taker for the refined bauxite are yet to be announced.
It is estimated that Ghana’s bauxite deposits in refined form could earn the country an export value of over $350 billion.