TWO hundred and fifteen farmers in the Birim North District are protesting against a mining project being undertaken by Newmont Company in their communities.
In a petition, the group, calling itself the Concerned Farmers Association, said part of the concession of the Newmont Akyem mine fell within the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve.
In addition, Newmont had not addressed the concerns of the people in the surrounding communities, hence their decision to write the petition.
The petition was addressed to the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, with copies to the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission and the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency
The petition said the reserve was of ecological importance in the area as it served as a watershed for important rivers such as the Owo, Ntia, Alotosu Aprapon, Adenkyensu and Yaayaa.
Moreover, it said the Ajebua Bepo Forest Reserve impacted positively on the rainfall pattern, which help farmers in their activities.
It said the ecological diversity of the area was of enormous benefit to farmers and that could not be substituted for the short term revenues from mining.
Another issue raised in the petition was that of compensation.
It said the Crop Compensation Committee set up by Newmont to negotiate compensation on behalf of affected farmers was contrary to provisions of the Minerals and Mining Law, Act 703.
The petition said representatives on the committee had no legal mandate under the said provisions to negotiate on behalf of the affected farmers as they were not in reality representing their interest.
It said Newmont had not provided adequate information on important issues such as the resettlement of communities and housing.
The petition said the environmental and social problems that would be associated with the operations of Newmont had prevented the EPA from granting it an environmental permit to proceed with operations.
When contacted, the Director of Mining at the EPA, Mr A. A. C. Andoh, confirmed that Newmont had not yet been given the environmental permit.
This, he said, was because it came out of an impact assessment that the operation of Newmont would result in the creation of a pit about 2.65 kilometres long and about a kilometre from the nearest town.
The company had, therefore, been asked to fill at least half of the pit but they had not agreed to that.
Mr Andoh said Newmont had recently re-submitted an environmental impact statement, which was yet to be reviewed.
He, therefore, asked for patience from all the partners.
DAILY GRAPHIC, FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2008, PG 48