Friday, October 30, 2015

WACAM Suggests Review Of Ghana's Weak Mining Law

Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng

Human rights and mining advocacy non-governmental organisation, WACAM, has called for a review of Ghana’s mining law, because of its unfavourable nature towards the country’s economic development and the promotion of human rights.

According to WACAM, the current law gives too much freedom and opportunities to mining companies, allowing them to engage in impunity, take undue advantage of mining communities as well as government in the payment of taxes and royalties. 

At a Tamale forum recently, WACAM Associate Director Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, presented a sample of a mining bill developed by WACAM and other organizations to stakeholders working in Ghana’s environment and extractive sector for validation. 

The aim for developing this sample mining bill was to mobilise Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), mining communities and other stakeholders in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana, to influence legal reforms in our mining sector so as to reflect the guiding principles and policies of the ECOWAS Directives on mining. 

The forum also accorded stakeholders the opportunity to influence reforms in addressing the limitations in the country’s mining law by contributing towards the development of the sample mining bill. 

The objectives of the forum were among other things, to review the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 Act 703; share with stakeholders the content of the sample mining bill; and collate views from participants on the sample bill.

Discussions on mining have always been around revenues with little mention of environmental pollution, human rights abuses and the potential loss of livelihoods associated with the mineral exploitation. Most mining communities are limited in participating effectively in the decisions of natural resource exploitation. Outbreak of violent conflicts often lead to brutalities meted out by security agencies against host mining communities. 

A miner engaged in environmental degradation
“These conflicts have resulted because of the huge gaps in the mining law, Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703, 2006 that protects mining investment interest in line with the concept of extractivism as against sovereign interest”, Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng claims.

These perceptions or otherwise, being held by the WACAM Associate Director and other CSOs in the sub region, led to the adoption of the ECOWAS directives on the guiding principles and policies in the mining sector in 2009. 

The Directives have important provisions such as the Free Prior and Informed Consent Principle and the Polluter Pays Principle which that compels mining companies to respect community rights and to improve the management of natural resources of states if governments internalise the provisions in the directives.

Thus, WACAM in collaboration with the Centre for Public Interest Law and Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis and with support from IBIS, Care Ghana and Ford Foundation are developing a sample mining bill to influence legal reforms in Ghana’s mining sector to reflect the guiding principles and policies of the ECOWAS Directives on mining. 

The sample bill would be forwarded to government later on for further dialogue and consideration, and when it is eventually accepted, the bill would be sent to parliament to be passed into a new law.

WACAM is working in over seventy (70) mining communities in the Country. Between 2009 and 2013, WACAM trained over 900 community people, 150 journalists and more than ten NGOs in the three regions of the North where new mining companies are locating. From 2009 to 2013, mining stories as reported by Journalists increased by 300 percent as against similar reports between 2004 and 2008.                     

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