There is growing tension in Ahafo North District in the Ahafo Region between Newmont Gold Limited (NGL) and Concerned Farmers Association Terchire, following the destruction of vast teak and cashew farmlands, MyPagegh.com has gathered.
According to reports, about six (6) farmers of the Concerned Farmers Association Terchire have had their teak and cashew plantations and other food crops destroyed by Boart Longyear (BLY), a drilling company contracted by NGL to prospect for gold in the area.
The affected farmers are Abraham Amu Mensah and Paul Yaw Asare in Susuano; John Mensah, Kofi Nelson, Shilas Adjei Mensah and Maame Efia Nsawouh, all in Terchire.
While about 3,000 teak plants were destroyed on the farmlands of Abraham Amu Mensah and Paul Yaw Mensah in Susuanso, John Mensah, Kofi Nelson, Shilas Adjei Mensah and Maame Efia Nsawouh in Terchire saw their teak and cashew plantations and food crops cleared from their farms.
MyPagegh.com understands that the drilling works have left in its wake deep pits on the affected farmlands which are posing grave danger to both the locals and animals.
The incident, which occurred on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, nearly resulted in a clash between workers of BLY and angry members of the Concerned Farmers Association Terchire.
It took the timely intervention of armed police personnel at the scene to prevent an escalation.
The action by Newmont was clearly in breach of the government’s ongoing process towards compulsory acquisition of lands in Ahafo North, when in actual fact no such lands have been acquired yet for mining operations in accordance with the law.
MyPagegh.com was informed that the government has reached Form Two stage of the compulsory acquisition process. This is a stage where the government gives notices to landowners and lawful occupiers and posts same on lands that would be compulsorily acquired by the state.
After the notice, the individual farm owners and or lawful occupiers then sit around the negotiation table with government.
Speaking to MyPagegh.com, the Secretary of the Concerned Farmers Association Terchire, Joseph Yaw Adu (aka Abiola), narrated that on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, they got wind of the information that BLY was undertaking drilling works for Newmont on some of their members’ farmlands in Terchire and Susuanso.
“So with this information, we mobilise ourselves (members of the association) and moved to the affected farmlands in Susuanso and Terchire,” he said.
He indicated that upon reaching the farmlands of both Abraham Amu Mensah and Paul Yaw Asare in Susuanso, they witnessed the wanton destruction of their teak and cashew plantations.
The sight of the destruction, he averred, angered his members who lashed out at workers of BLY for wreaking such havoc on the farmlands of their colleagues.
He said the story in Susuanso was no different from what had happened in Terchire, lamenting that “at Terchire too we saw the despicable destruction of 4 of our members’ farmlands.”
Mr. Adu could not fathom why Newmont will storm the farmlands of his members when the compulsory land acquisition process was still ongoing.
“…and even after the compulsory acquisition of land process, which lasts for 30 days, another 14 days is given. So clearly this action by Newmont is deliberate and one intended to deprive them of their livelihood,” he noted.
“I am particularly worried about the deep craters Newmont has created on the farmlands they have destroyed. And they are now deathtraps not only to us the residents but animals in Susuanso and Terchire,” he warned.
He pointed out that the five towns around Newmont concessional area in Ahafo North have become empowered with knowledge as a result of series of fora organised for locals by non-profit organisations–Wacam and Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL).
“After one such forum with our members on the compulsory acquisition process, we have become well informed so much that we have resolved that until the compulsory acquisition process is exhausted between the Lands Commission and us (the affected people), Newmont has no right to enter our farms on condition that government is acquiring the land for them,” he stressed.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Adu warned Newmont and its agents to stay off properties of his members.
“We are equally calling on the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry to immediately call Newmont to order! Failure on the part of Newmont to heed our call will compel us to use all legitimate means to protect our lawful properties,” he emphasised.
Many farmers in the five major towns—Yamfo, Susuanso, Terchire, Afrisipakrom and Adrobaa— around the Ahafo North Project of NGL in the Tano North Municipality have been adversely affected by the mine.
For some years now, the operations of NGL have sparked series of protests by the farmers in these five towns with many of them labelling the company as evil.