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Do more for Appiatse: Lands Minister charges mining firms

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor (left), Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, speaking at the event. With him are Mr Eric Asubonteng (right), President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr George Mireku Duker (2nd from right) and Mr Benito Owusu Bio, deputy ministers of Lands and Natural Resources
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor (left), Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, speaking at the event. With him are Mr Eric Asubonteng (right), President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr George Mireku Duker (2nd from right) and Mr Benito Owusu Bio, deputy ministers of Lands and Natural Resources

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has chastised big mining companies in the country for not committing enough resources into the reconstruction of Appiatse, the community in the Prestia-Huni Valley municipality in the Western Region that was destroyed in an explosion last month.

He said given that mining companies benefitted immensely from mining activities in the country, it was unacceptable that they had failed to make adequate financial commitment to the reconstruction of the Appiatse community which got destroyed from the explosion of mining explosives.

He expressed the reservation when the Ghana Chamber of Mines (GCM) donated $4 million (GHc26 million) to the Appiatse Support Fund yesterday.

4 Companies contribute

The President of the GCM, Mr Eric Asubonteng, led the team from the chamber and officials of Goldfields Ghana Limited to present a dummy cheque for GH¢6,159,800, being Goldfields' share of the total amount, to the fund.

He explained that the three companies that had made similar contributions to the fund were AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont Ghana Limited and Chirano Gold Mines Limited.

Minister dissatisfied

However, when the amount donated was disclosed, Mr Jinapor pointed out to the team that he was dissatisfied with the contribution made by the GCM.

"A chamber of your size, strength, membership, portfolio and what you are involved in mean that you should do better than this. If I had my way, the Appiatse Support Fund idea would be abandoned for the chamber to step forward and say that it would fund the reconstruction of the community because the explosion was mining related.

“The point is that it will not be out of place if the GCM takes the whole bill for reconstructing the Appiatse community.

“We appreciate the four companies that contributed this money, and Ghanaians will thank you for this effort. However, I am not too sure that this amount is significant," he emphasised.

Mr Jinapor urged the other mining companies that had not contributed to the fund to rethink their decision and take steps to do so.

He intimated that the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry and the GCM were "partners in the same boat", so whatever affected the ministry affected the chamber.

GCM's support

Mr Asubonteng said the key objective of the GCM was to provide leadership for solutions to national issues regarding the mining industry, saying it was in that spirit that since the explosion occurred at Appiatse on January 20, this year, members of the chamber had got involved in processes to restore livelihoods to the area.

“For instance, Future Global Resources (FGR), owners of the Bogoso Prestea Mine, helped in the rescue exercise and provided earth-moving equipment to clear debris during the initial phase of the rescue exercise.

Again, he said, members of the chamber had assisted in delivering humanitarian services such as beds, mattresses, food and water to the people of Appiatse.

Mr Asubonteng also said the GCM had been a key stakeholder in structural processes, including representation on the committees working to reconstruct the community.

He said FGR's agreement to release its resettlement houses to the government to accommodate displaced residents of Appiatse was a testament to the fact that the chamber was committed to support the rebuilding process.