Ghana’s government is fending off accusations made by locals in the southwestern portion of the country that they were not properly notified by the state regarding bauxite concessions there.
Local media reported late last week that residents of Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region recently raised such complaints, saying that the area had already been leased to miners without their input and consent.
Nana Boakye Ansah, the Odikro of Yawberema and member of the Nyinahin Elders Association, said to reporters that they continue to seek input on the disposition of the bauxite on their land so that it may benefit themselves and their posterity.
“[We] want to seat on a table with the government, produce papers for an agreement and send to Parliament so it can be a source of confidence between the people of Nyinahin and surrounding areas and the government of Ghana so that in the near future, even if we are dead, our children can have some benefit from the bauxite.”
Estimates of the reserves in the area show that the cache could be mined for up to three centuries. At present prices, the reserves are valued at US$45 billion. In contrast, the outcroppings at Atewa have perhaps only three decades remaining before total exhaustion. Additionally, experts believe operations at Nyinahin will have a significantly milder effect upon the local watershed.
Countering these claims was Ghana’s Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, telling reporters that the leasing process is still far from complete.
“Let us ask whether any concession has been given out. Their claim is a false premise because no concession has been given out. The state is seeking to validate the volume [of bauxite] that we have there. When you validate those ones, you go to the next step of giving a lease to a company possibly to mine that bauxite. That lease will contain all other environmental impact assessment that needs to be done by the EPA before you give out that lease for a particular development project to be done. So if anyone says that a concession has been given without consulting them, then that person is misinformed. If you say a lease has been given; then to who?”
“There is no body who has been given a lease,” he continued. “The state through its own express is seeking to validate the quantum. When we are done, we will get to the next stage. For example, if you are going to give a lease, the necessary consultations between local authorities will take place because all mineral resources are vested in the President on behalf of the Republic. At this stage, the state needs to validate the quantum before it proceeds with any kind of further conversation.”