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Newmont Under Pressure to Relocate Endangered Communities

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Satellite communities around Kenyase in the Asutsifi North District have issued a dire warning, demanding that the government pressure Newmont to resettle them, as their lives are at risk.

They can no longer endure the suffering caused by Newmont Ahafo South Mine’s operations, and urgent relocation was necessary to save those remaining.

The affected communities, including Tutuka and Damso, situated close to Newmont Ahafo South Mining’s tailings dam, are experiencing severe negative impacts from the mining company’s activities.

Residents are suffering from skin diseases, polluted water sources, devastated farmlands, and attacks from venomous animals, including snakes, and drowning of children.

Father Moree Lebi, spokesperson for the communities, made the plea during a community exchange visit organised by Wacam, in collaboration with A Rocha Ghana and Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at the durbar grounds of Damso.

The visit formed part of the launch of the 3-year European Union (EU)-funded Building Resilient and Active Communities in Extractive Landscapes in Ghana (BRACE) Project, which aims to support communities affected by extractive industries.

The Damso community exchange visit brought together 131 participants, including a EU delegation, members of Wacam, A Rocha Ghana, NDF, and residents from mining-affected communities across the country, to discuss the challenges and find solutions to mitigate the negative impacts of mining.

Father Lebi emphasised that many residents have been exposed to hazardous chemicals used by Newmont in its operations, resulting in skin diseases, regular headaches, heart diseases, and other health issues.

He added that their domestic animals and farm produce have also been exposed to dangerous chemicals, putting everyone at high risk.

He intimated that the communities can neither drink from their river nor use dug-boreholes due to toxicity, making relocation a ‘matter of life or death’ for those living in Tutuka and Damso.

According to Father Lebi, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consulted a scientist who revealed the extent of the negative impacts of Newmont’s operations on their lives.

“Last year (2023), the EPA tasked a professor scientist to undertake studies in our communities. The scientist took samples of our water, sand, and also conducted tests on our domestic animals, and his findings were very shocking,” he indicated.

He noted that the scientist’s studies revealed that all their water bodies, fish, and dug-boreholes were contaminated.

“In addition, the scientist strongly warned us against allowing our children to eat chicken from our fowls because they were harmful, especially to our children’s health,” he added.

Father Lebi lamented that what was baffling was that though the scientist has briefed them on his findings and made copies of his work available to the EPA, Newmont, the DCE, and Chief of Ntotroso, they were yet to receive a copy.

This, he stated, was something they cannot fathom, cautioning that they may be compelled to use other means to obtain a copy of the study.

Against this backdrop, the spokesperson of Damso urged Wacam, A Rocha, NDF, and the EU to ensure that Newmont resettles them as soon as practicable.

Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, assured the community people that through the BRACE project, the three local implementing partners will work with a sense of urgency to ensure that their issues are taken up by the powers that be.

From Damso, the exchange participants visited Dormaa Kantinka, where residents shared their experiences and success stories.

The Dormaa Kantinka people were full of praise for Wacam and its advocacy work.

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