Dokyikrom speculative structures delay Newmont’s TSF expansion
Sprawling speculative structures at Dokyikrom in the Asutifi District of the Ahafo Region is delaying the expected expansion of the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) of Newmont Ghana Ahafo South operations.
Officials of Newmont say, residents of the area and adjoining communities have added extra structures to the buildings earmarked for compensation after the cut-off date of July 2019 in anticipation of getting extra money.
The TSF expansion aims to enhance Newmont's capacity to store waste to enable increased gold production.
The Communications and External Relations Manager of Newmont Ahafo South and North, Samuel Osei, said some individuals had illegally constructed structures after the enumeration process was completed and intended to demand compensation for the unauthorised structures.
Speaking to the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA), who were on a mining tour of the area, Mr Osei said the situation had caused delays in taking stock of the resettlement process for the past two years.
He said regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had deemed the wrongful structures ineligible for compensation.
Mr Osei said the Tailings Storage Facility was almost full, and the company had secured a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to relocate people within the catchment area of the tailing’s expansion project.
He explained that since the mining site was expanding, it was necessary to also expand territories of its by-products since it was becoming full.
Some of the speculative structures at the site
Mr Osei explained that the resettlement was to ensure that if ever there was any impact from the tailings dam, the people would not suffer.
“After series of meetings with the EPA, it was agreed that residents in the area which would be affected should be compensated and relocated to sites constructed by Newmont.
Relief for speculators
The Communications and External Relations Manager emphasised that though Newmont had agreed to pay some relief for the speculative structures, residents in the Asutifi District in the Ahafo Region had refused to accept it and were demanding full compensation.
Newmont, however, says it is working round the clock to address the delays to ensure that work progresses.
The company has begun the compensation and resettlement process to resettle those directly impacted by the project.
Aside from relocation and compensation, Newmont is providing water and medical assistance.
The Director of External Relations and Communication at the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Ahmed Nantogmah, indicated that there were laws that regulated mining and speculative activities were bad for Ghana as a mining destination.
The speculative structures, he said, was delaying the resettlement process, explaining that the more the process delayed the project, the higher chances of negative effects on Ghana’s income earning on mining.
The community members denied extending or erecting new structures after the July 2019 cut-off date and called for expedited actions in the resettlement and compensation processes by the mining company and stakeholders.
They blame Newmont Ghana for the widespread skin and eye-related diseases in the area in the last few years.
Newmont Ghana last year paid over 800 speculators who built illegal structures on the mining company’s Ahafo North concession some relief support to pave the way for the construction of the $850 million mine.
The construction of the Ahafo North mine was delayed because of the presence of the large speculative developers, who had invaded the field in anticipation of big compensation from Newmont after the area was declared a mining concession in 2017.
But following discussions with the Ahafo Regional Coordinating Council, the mining company paid GH¢45 million in a bid to retain the goodwill of its host communities and the speculating claimants.
Compensations for genuine landowners, whose structures and buildings were marked and coded in 2017, when the area was declared a mining concession.
The concession, which spans across five communities in the Tano North Municipality of the Ahafo Region, holds about 3.3 million ounces of gold with a 13-year lifespan.
During a visit to the project site, signs of hurriedly erected structures, including fish ponds, thatched and block buildings were sighted on the company’s concessions covering the five local communities of Terchire, Afrisipakrom, Susuanso, Yamfo and Adrobaa.