Groups Urge Ghana Government to Audit North American Mining Company
October 18, 2005
EARTHWORKS * FIAN International * WACAM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
GROUPS URGE GHANA GOVERNMENT TO AUDIT NORTH AMERICAN MINING COMPANY
Environmental and human rights concerns should be addressed before EPA allows Golden Star Resources to restart operations in Prestea
Accra, Heidelberg, and Washington DC: Today, EARTHWORKS, FIAN International, and the Wassa Association of Communities affected by Mining (WACAM) are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana to conduct an environmental audit of Bogoso Gold Limited's gold mining operations in Prestea in the Western Region of Ghana, and to renew the suspension of the mine until community concerns about environmental pollution and human rights abuses are addressed. Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) is a subsidiary of US-Canadian gold mining company Golden Star Resources. Golden Star Resources is a member of the London-based World Gold Council, an international association of gold mining companies operating in 22 countries.
A suspension order was issued to BGL last month by the EPA for violating certain conditions of its environmental permit, but the order fails to address the concerns of the communities impacted by the mine, including the dumping of waste rock only 30 meters from the Prestea Government Hospital and the excessive noise, dust, and property damage resulting from the mine's blasting activities. BGL is also responsible for a cyanide spill in the local river and for covering a natural spring with waste rock. Both the river and the spring served as a source of drinking water for local communities.
"The EPA cannot continue to keep its head in the sand," said Daniel Owusu-Koranteng of WACAM. "An environmental audit is necessary so that the Prestea community can know how the mine has impacted water quality."
"The government of Ghana is obliged under international law to protect the rights to health and water and to ensure an adequate standard of living for people affected by mining operations. The failure of the government to do so makes this an international issue," said Ute Hausmann of FIAN Germany.
The communities were shocked when they learnt that BGL intends to resume operations as soon as EPA reviews the mitigation measures put into place by the company to comply with the EPA order. These measures include the relocation of the Prestea police station and the erection of a fence around the mine pit, but do not include any of the community's concerns about the increasing quantity of mine waste and lack of access to clean drinking water.
"The EPA's order as it stands today is effectively 'greenwashing' for BGL since the most significant environmental and human rights problems are not addressed," said Mike Anane of FIAN Ghana.
"Our hopes were raised when the media announced that the EPA had ordered the suspension of BGL's mining operations. All the residents greeted the announcement with much relief, and we hoped that BGL would quickly begin to clean-up the environmental pollution caused by their mine and that this would also be a lesson to all the multinational mining companies in the country. But our excitement soon turned into frustration when we realized that none of our demands were being addressed in the EPA's orders," said Kwesi Blay of the Concerned Citizens of Association of Prestea, an association of mining-affected residents.
EARTHWORKS, FIAN and WACAM are also calling on the government of Ghana to start an independent investigation into the shooting of peaceful demonstrators at a rally organized by mining-affected residents in June 2005, which injured seven people, including a twelve-year old boy.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about Bogoso Gold Limited's Ghana operations and their impacts on local communities.
For photos of the mine at Prestea and its impacts: