WACAM Wants Govít To Internalise ECOWAS Directives On Mining

Wacam, human rights and environmental mining advocacy Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO) has urged government to internalize the provisions of the ECOWAS directives on mining in the country.

It said the "Free Prior and Informed Consent Principle and the Polluter Pays Principle", which were provisions of the ECOWAS directives when internalised in the country’s laws, would compel mining companies to respect community rights and improve the management of natural resources.

Mrs Hannah Owusu Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, made the appeal at a sensitisation workshop on the sample mining bill developed by a consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at the University of Cape Coast (UCC).

The workshop, organised by the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) was aimed at according stakeholders within the academic institutions the opportunity to influence reforms in addressing the limitations in the mining law by making an input into the sample mining bill. It was also to disseminate and collate views from the academia on the sample mining bill to influence legal reforms in the mining sector in Ghana.

The sample mining bill is an alternative framework for the mining sector that seeks to address the challenges associated with the exploitation of Ghana’s minerals in the interest of the state as well as communities affected by mining.

It also seeks to align Ghana’s mining legal framework to the numerous international Protocols which Ghana had signed to.

Mrs Koranteng said the concept of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) required companies to secure the consent of communities affected by extractive industry projects before initiating activities.

She said all communities that could potentially be impacted by extractive industry projects had the right to access full information and participate meaningfully in negotiations.

She said FPIC had been largely recognised in international law and corporate policies and was emerging as an effective method to empower communities, prevent conflicts and reduce the harmful effects of development projects in poor areas.

She said mining companies had enjoyed a lot of subsidies and continuously use the system to exploit communities and as such did not want the status quo to change.

Mrs Koranteng said activities of mining companies often led to the destruction of the livelihoods of mining communities as well as violations of human rights and expressed the need for the companies to engage in responsible mining.

Speaking on the topic "Overview of mining investment in Ghana", Mr Samuel Obiri, Executive Director of CEIA, said mining activities in Ghana had created serious social, economic, environmental and political consequences including unemployment, increased poverty and crime.

He said Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703) was promotional as it permitted mining companies to negotiate retention between 80 to 90 per cent of earnings from foreign exchange in offshore account but did not provide adequate protection of community rights.