Wacam, a community based human rights and environmental mining advocacy non-governmental organisation (NGO), has stated that it has never shied away from supporting farmers in mining communities in the Tano North Municipality of the Ahafo Region and others, from defending their rights and properties.
The Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, who made the statement, was reacting to a news item by Accra-based Peace FM on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, which pointed the finger of blame on the organisation.
The said news item said some chiefs in the operational areas of Newmont Ahafo Mine (including communities such as Yamfo, Afrisipa, Susanaso, Techire and Adrobaa) led by the chief of Yamfo, visited the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon Mireku Duker, and blamed Wacam for helping farmers in these areas to protect their properties from the mining company.
The Peace FM story continued that the chiefs chided Wacam for assisting the vulnerable farmers in the above areas for engaging Wacam to use legitimate means to protect their properties.
According to Mrs Owusu-Koranteng, it is pathetic for the chiefs to blame Wacam in its advocacy work, and more especially, when the farmers had engaged the NGO to help them protect their rights and properties from the “devastating operations of Newmont.”
She said Regulation 2 of the Compensation and Resettlement Principles, LI 2175 (2012) states that a person whose interest in land is affected by the granting of mineral right may engage the services of qualified persons to protect his/her interests .
Therefore, the farmers are acting within the remit of the law by engaging Wacam to support them in the protection of their properties, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam explained.
“Is the Yamfo Chief and the other chiefs in the Tano North Municipality now the mouthpiece of Newmont?, she quizzed.
She emphasised that inasmuch as Newmont has the right to use its allies including chiefs, lawyers, security personnel among others to protect its interest, the ‘vulnerable farmers’ in the Tano North municipality equally have same right to seek support from advocacy organisations such as Wacam, a human rights, environmental and mining advocacy NGO, that has been operating in about 180 communities in 7 regions of Ghana.
“Wacam’s mining advocacy which spans over the twenty-three (23) years has empowered communities affected by mining operations to protect their rights against corporate power. As a knowledge organisation, Wacam’s vast and rich knowledge on mining and environment has benefited government, researchers, students among others. Wacam’s advocacy has helped the country and regulators in holding mining companies accountable to pay compensation in situations of cyanide spillages,” she indicated.
Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng averred that examples abound of how Wacam, through its activities, has exposed attempts by mining companies to cover up cyanide spillages and corporate cruelties against poor people living in areas of mining operations by big mining companies like Newmont.
“Wacam was very instrumental in exposing the cyanide spillage of Newmont Ahafo Mine which compelled the company to pay a fine of $5 million US dollars imposed on them for spilling cyanide into community rivers and attempting to cover up.
“…Wacam is proud that its vigilance helped to expose the Newmont Ahafo cyanide spillage resulting in a fine against Newmont which had been used for the development of community projects including a clinic,” she said.
To this end, Mrs Owusu-Koranteng reiterated that Wacam is committed to use legal and rights advocacy to continue the support to the vulnerable people affected by the operations of multinational companies, stressing that “Wacam is very proud of this noble objective.”