There is No Responsible Way of Mining Atewa Forest Bauxite-CSOs Challenge Minister
The Coalition of NGOs Against Mining Atewa, the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, the Green Livelihood Alliance and several other civil society organizations have challenged statements by the minister of lands and natural resources, Mr. Peter John Amewu on claims that the bauxite at Atewa forest reserve will be mined using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. The minister is on record to have said this when he spoke to Journalists in Takwa-Nsuta in the Western Region after he led a delegation to the Ghana Manganese Company on Friday, the 20th of July, 2018.
In a press statement issued on July 23, 2018 to rebut the minister’s claims, the organizations explained that before bauxite mining can commence, the land needs to be cleared of timber and vegetation. The bauxite layer beneath the overburden is broken up using methods such a blasting, drilling and ripping with very large bulldozers. Their statement further cautioned that, these processes of bauxite mining if allowed within the Atewa forest reserve will not only destroy the forest and natural water systems for over 5 million people, but also affect the livelihoods of 40 communities fringing the forest as well as its rich and endemic biodiversity.
“This said, we must indicate that, should government ignore local and international community concerns on targeting Atewa Forest into a bauxite mine, government will in effect be perpetuating the largest irresponsible ‘galamsey’ (Illegal mining) activity ever in the history of this country.”
The Statement also outlined 5 reasons why bauxite mining in Atewa cannot be responsible and a sustainable development pathway for Ghana.
- The plan to convert a watershed that provides water to over 5 million Ghanaians into a mine pit.
- The plan to sacrifice water for 5 million Ghanaians for low grade bauxite mine which will bring untold water stress and hardship to communities on the fringes.
- The failure of government to undertake a Strategic Environment Assessment and due diligence as to the feasibility and trade-off for bauxite mining a watershed like Atewa before going to leverage it for financial deal.
- There is nowhere in the world where bauxite mining in a watershed has been responsible. It must be mentioned that, all the five (5) major bauxite mines in Australia are not happening in a watershed that is the source of water for 5 million people. We will be comparing oranges to apples if we should use the Australian example as the bench mark in Ghana. The current bauxite mine in Awaso reflects the sad, deplorable state to which are bauxite reserves have been managed. The communities are in dire need of amenities and are crying to be liberated. The evidence points to the fact that, there is no way one can mine bauxite in a forest as well as watershed and still claim to be committed to safeguarding the forest.
- Atewa Forest is a hill sanctuary watershed that was set aside as far back as 1927 by traditional leaders within the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area. Destroying such a rich heritage and watershed will be unimaginable.