On July 6, 2023, the Citizens Committee Network (CiCoNet), a group of concerned community members in the Eastern Region of Ghana, led a group of journalists to tour three towns that have been badly affected by mining activities.
The field trip, which took the journalists to Juaso, Nsuapemso and Segyimase, gave media representatives an understanding of the impacts of mining on community members’ lives and livelihoods and showcased the failure of Ghana’s mining regulatory agencies to respond to the human rights and environmental abuses that communities are suffering at the hands of some mining companies operating in the area.
The trip kickstarted at Juaso, where the team visited a structure slated for use as a black soap manufacturing facility, a project that the community launched to provide alternative livelihoods for people who have lost their land to mining expansion. Ironically, work on the project has stalled due to recent moves by Kibi Goldfields to excavate the land just inches away from the structure, without prior notice to the community.
Juaso soap making block
As soon as the group arrived on-site, and before the journalists could peacefully carry out their professional duty, heavily armed private security agents working with Kibi Goldfields Company Limited emerged, tried to confiscate the participants’ phones and devices, and blocked their egress from the area. Notwithstanding, the ACA staff on board managed to convince the security detail to allow the media to carry on with their work.
In a series of field visits and interviews, the journalists learned of the community members’ key concerns, including the involuntary acquisition of farmlands by Kibi Goldfields (in Juaso) and Narawa Mining (in Nsuapemso) without adequate compensation to the landowners/farmers and the destruction of water bodies. Farmers also complained about the companies’ refusal to remediate abandoned mining pits after use, which has led to the accidental death of about nine persons in less than two years.
“I lost my two sons on the same day because of Narawa Mining Company’s uncovered pits at Nsuapemso in September last year. My two sons, Grant Larbi, 24, and Blessed Damptey, 21, fell into one of the uncovered pits on their way to farm and died on the spot,” Mr. Daniel Damptey narrated his ordeal to the media.
According to him, the loss was especially devastating, as Grant Larbi, the eldest son, was the bread winner of the family.
Mr. Daniel Damptey showing 2 sons who died
Mr. George Owusu Asante, Chairman of CiCoNet, stated that Kibi Goldfield’s mining operations had taken over vast areas of lands belonging to the people of Juaso without prior notice, destroying their livelihoods and access to potable drinking water.
“Instead of the mining company informing owners of the land who are predominantly farmers for negotiations, the company takes over the land – often overnight and in most cases without surveying the land – and destroys crops and economic trees,” he stated. “Just take a look at this building, which is to house our black soap manufacturing system, built by the community to provide an alternate source of income for residents, and just see how they are excavating around the building without any recourse to future of the community?”
The mining company’s alleged actions violate Section 72(5) of the Mineral and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), which requires the owner of the mining lease to, “in the presence of the owner or accredited representative of the owner, and an officer of the Government agency responsible for land valuation, carry out a survey of crops and produce a crop identification map for compensation in the event that the mining activities are extended to the areas.”
“The company’s excavators have shaken the building’s stability, frightening community members who want to participate in the self-help project, disrupting farming activities and causing devastating effects on the community’s livelihood,” remarked Owusu Asante. “We are unable to farm, which is making life extremely difficult for us,”