Thursday, April 21, 2016

WACAM, Others Sensitise Communities Around Iron-Rich Sheini Hills

Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng

One of Ghana’s leading promoters of good environmental and natural resource governance, WACAM– has extended its sensitization programme to communities around the iron-rich Sheini Hills in the Tatale-Sanguli District, with a call on citizens to know their rights and exercise them appropriately within the confines of the law.   

According to Associate Executive Director of WACAM, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, when citizens in a potential mining community such as Sheini understand the benefits and dangers associated with mining, they are better placed to demand for the right thing to be done by mining companies and government.

Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng said this when her organisation in collaboration with the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) and the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) organised a forum at Tatale in the Northern Region of Ghana.

The forum, which was funded by OSIWA, was to validate baseline studies conducted on the environment, health, livelihood and socio-economic impacts of iron ore exploration in Sheini.

It was also to create awareness among the citizens of Sheini, Kandin, Wajado, Nankando and Sangbaa communities, who expressed interest to learn about their basic rights and entitlements to certain privileges as enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

The government of Ghana through Soviet Geologists from Russia discovered large quantities of iron ore deposits under the Sheini Hills in the late 1960s. Since that geological test, no other test has been conducted until between 2000 and 2010 a number of mining companies, which expressed interest to mine the resource, also carried out their independent tests and the results were the same as the earlier results.

Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng Making a Presentation At The Forum

One of the previous tests conducted indicates that the Sheini iron ore is one of the finest and largest ever to be discovered in Africa. The various geological tests indicate that the Sheini iron stones are about 80.9 per cent rich in iron ore and could be mined continuously for 100 years. Besides iron ore, traces of diamond, manganese, bauxite, potassium, phosphorous and clinker among others have also been found in the hills.

In 2010, of about twelve (12) mining companies that express interest and readiness to develop the concession, Cardero Canada and its Ghanaian partner Emmaland Resources Limited, were given authorization to conduct exploration on the hills. 

But within two years after the two companies started exploration, the local people began to experience the negative impact of the exploratory activities as their livelihood sources were being destroyed in various forms.

For instance, the studies by WACAM cited the pollution of the Sheini river, destruction of farms and the Sheini bridge, killing of animals by the vehicles of mining companies among others. The studies by WACAM further revealed that, 44 percent of respondents claimed the exploratory activities of the mining companies caused destructions in the Sheini forest whereas 56 percent of respondents attributed the destruction of their farmlands to the miners.

Polluted Sheini River
The forum brought together chiefs, Assembly members, women and youth groups of the various communities. They expressed gratitude to WACAM and its partners for organising such a forum to educate them on things they never knew, and called for more of such fora to be organised for different groups in the communities.

While commending WACAM and its partners for the sensitisation programme, participants also urged government to enter into good deals on behalf of Ghana and more importantly, the inhabitants of the Sheini area.

Citing poor quality education, unmotorable road networks, ill-equipped schools and health facilities, lack of safe drinking water as some of their critical needs, they asked Cardero Canada and its partner or any other investor who may be interested in the iron ore to consider providing them such facilities.

WACAM is working in over seventy (70) mining communities in Ghana. Between 2009 and 2013, WACAM has trained over 900 community people, 150 journalists and more than ten non-governmental organisations in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions where new mining companies are locating.

No comments:

Post a Comment