Environmental groups ask Ghana’s president to show proof of harm-free Atewa bauxite mining

Environmental groups ask Ghana’s president to show proof of harm-free Atewa bauxite mining

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Environmental groups demanding that the government halts plans to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest have dared President Nana Akufo-Addo to prove his claim that the technology to be used for mining bauxite in the forest would not harm the environment.

A spokesperson for the Coalition of Environmental groups, Darly Bosu told Accra-based Citi FM that they will immediately stop protesting against mining in the forest if the president proves his claim.

“We very much disagree [with President Akufo-Addo] based on the fact that what he said is not proven and there is no fact to substantiate that. As far as we know, there is no technology that is used for bauxite mining anywhere in the world that really goes to describe what the president has talked about. Bauxite mining anywhere in the world is one of the most destructive enterprises ever.”

Nana Akufo-Addo explained that the technology to be adopted by the miners would reduce the impact of the mining activity on the quality of life of persons whose livelihoods depend on the forest’s resources.

However, Daryl Bosu said there is no technology in bauxite mining that will not affect the environment and so the president has a duty to make public the technology he referred.

“If he really has that technology he is talking about, he should show all of us. We are ready to see it and we are ready to change our position if he can show us that, that is possible,” Mr Bosu said.

He added that the government “should start with the fundamental exercise of undertaking a strategic environmental assessment but that they are forfeiting to do. But they have already started going to the areas and already having their way.”

Meanwhile, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah says the government has begun the validation of the amount of bauxite that could be mined in the Atewa forest reserve.

He explained that although the country had projections based on which a deal was signed, it is now time for a proper assessment of the amount of bauxite deposited in the reserve for Ghana’s full benefit.

He, however, denied allegations that mining has started in the area.

“No, mining activities have not started. What is going on is the work of experts who are to validate the bauxite quantity that will be mined within the Atewa region.”

“Over the years, we have been working with some quantity assumptions across the country between Atewa and Nyinahin, etc. But we have come to a stage that we need to actually validate what we have there. And so, what we are doing is the validation process to determine exactly how much we have in that region.” the Information Minister added.

But heavy equipment are already in the forest to begin work under the supervision of officials from National Security, the Forestry Commission, Minerals Commission and Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC).

A number of Civil Service Organizations have called for a halt. They include the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations Against Mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve, which has threatened legal action to halt the process.

The Christian Council of Ghana, in a letter to the presidency in March 2019, said the economic gains were not worth the destruction of the Atewa forest, which provides water for five million Ghanaians.

Meanwhile, the United States Forestry Services, which provided technical consultation service to the government on the proposed mining of bauxite in the Atewa Forest Reserve said the government must be cautious and seriously evaluate other options including alternatives to mining in the forest.

However, the Abuakwa Traditional Council is aware of the development and has given its full support to the government on its move to mine bauxite in the forest.

The Atewa forest is highly regarded because it contains Upland Evergreen forest.

The only other place in Ghana with this type of forest is the Tano Ofin Forest Reserve, which is much smaller and has suffered the effects of human activity.

The Atewa forest has been recognized as an important reservoir of biodiversity and has been officially classified in various ways: as a national forest reserve in 1926, a Special Biological Protection Area in 1994, a Hill Sanctuary in 1995 and as one of Ghana’s 30 Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs) in 1999.

In 2001, Atewa was listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.

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