Stop Newmont from Mining in Forest Reserve - Youth

Youth for Action Ghana (YfAG), a youth force for the advancement of environmental protection, has urged the Government to revoke the licence granted Newmont Akyem Project to mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve. A release James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr, Executive Director of YfAG, signed on Friday said; �mining in Forest Reserves in Ghana constitute a crime against the youth of Ghana, who have a greater stake in the wealth of Ghana, and the future generation, who would bear the consequences of the destruction of Ghana�s forests and biodiversity through irresponsible and unbeneficial mining operations led by foreign companies. �YfAG is aware of the ecologically strategic importance of the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve and Atiwa Forest Reserve and we insist that clearing the forest for mining activity will cause the nation an irreparable loss,� the release said. YfAG said it shared the ideals of the Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, King of Akyem Abuakwa, of protecting forest reserves from corporate greed and congratulated the Enlightened King for his 10 years of consistent struggle to protect the environment and the creation of awareness about the harmful effects of mining activities. YfAG said it found �it worrying that some Chiefs in Akyem Kotoku are supporting the intended Newmont Akyem Mine in the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve, which according to Newmont�s own documents would lead to the destruction of the livelihood of about 10,000 farmers and also destroy important heritage sites including cemeteries. �It is surprising that despite these serious negative effects of the Newmont Akyem Project, which would lead to the destruction of Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve, some Chiefs in Akyem Kotoku are vigorously campaigning for this destructive mining project of Newmont. �What is even more disappointing is the preparedness of these Akyem Kotoku Chiefs, which include Nana Owusu Gyamadua, Member of the Council of State for the Eastern Region, to lead the attacks on advocacy NGOs like WACAM that are performing their patriotic duty of protecting forest reserves in Ghana including the Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve,� the release said. YfAG also expressed concern about the poor supervisory role and actions of State organs and regulatory bodies in recent years � �YfAG notes with deep worry, the fact that important State institutions including universities are under the strong influence of the mining companies. �We do not believe that under these conditions, these public bodies and institutions can stand against these mining firms in the interest of mining communities and the public. �Regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and all Research Institutions need to be funded by public sources so that they can assert their independence and protect the mining communities and the interest of the country,� the release said. YfAG said it was very worried about the insensitivity of Government agencies in matters relating to the welfare and development of mining communities and consequently demanded that: �Government takes immediate steps to review the existing mining laws which only protect the interest of mining companies and provides unjustifiable tax relief as well as high levels of profit repatriation to foreign mining firms. �Government takes immediate steps to halt all exploratory and mining projects in forest reserves in the country. �Government must immediately review the terms of investment agreements with mining firms; enforce environmental standards and ensure that the socio-economic interests of mining communities are protected,� the release said. YfAG further called �on Government to take steps to protect our forest reserves and other ecological monuments in the country and urged religious bodies, trade unions, student bodies and other civil society organization as well as the Academia to join this national call to demand preservation of national, cultural and economic resources, which we owe as a duty to future generations to protect. �We call on the Chiefs of Ghana to be circumspect and nationalistic in discussing our natural resources. They should appreciate the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) advocating a voice for community people. �YfAG is prepared to organize to resist mining operations in Forest Reserves of Ghana,� the release said.