The National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) met in Accra in January to strategically review the last year and plan the course for 2010.
The Coalition discussed a range of issues including an update of complaints from communities affected by mining, policy reform agenda of the African Union–Economic Commission for Africa (AU-ECA), especially after the December 2009 Accra conference whichwas co-hosted with ECOWAS and TWN-Africa; the viability of the Gambia-based African Commission for Human and People’s Rights as another forum for addressing community rights; the new donor framework – the Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG). NCOM members also reviewed the state of the Coalition as a framework for common and collaborative campaigns.
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CHIEFS AND PEOPLE OF ETWEBO-AKOTI AND THE NATIONAL COALITION ON MINING (NCOM)
THE CHIEF OF ETWEBO NANA YAW GYAMU II
NOVEMBER 12TH, 2009 ACCRA.
The purpose of this press conference is to deny knowledge of a letter purported to have been authorised by the Chief and people of Etwebo and to clarify misinformation that there is confusion in the community arising from the national forum of the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) held in Akoti early last month. The letter written by a non-governmental organization called Consumer Watch Initiative Ghana and reports about confusion in Etwebo are fabrications, baseless and do not in any way reflect the views and opinion of the good people of Etwebo. We therefore call on the public to ignore it.
About 2,000 representatives of communities affected by mining in all major concession areas across Ghana attended the second annual national forum of the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) in Akoti, a small community in the Sefwi-Wiawso District of the Western Region.
The forum effectively served a unique platform for mining-affected communities to both share experiences and collectively demand answers from government over the untenable balance sheet of mining communities and the country as a whole.
Ghana’s deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, along with officials from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ghana Minerals Commission represented government. The forum was also attended by traditional leaders, religious groups, women and youth networks.
Addressing the forum on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Sefwi, Prince Amoako-Atta, who is also the leader of the group said since Chirano Gold Mine Limited (CGML) started its operations in the area the quality of life of the people has sharply deteriorated.
The purpose of this press release is to condemn the propaganda of the Chamber of Mines and to demand of it and its membership to end violence and human rights abuses perpetuated against people living in communities affected by mining.
This release is made at the monthly rotation meeting of the National Coalition on Mining held Tuesday June 3rd, 2008 in the conference room of Third World Network-Africa.
In the last few weeks, in commemorating its 80th anniversary, the Chamber of Mines has sought to project the mining industry as an industry going beyond the call of duty in its contribution to community livelihood, the environment and the national economy as a whole. The Chamber exaggerated this stance by formulating the theme for the eightieth anniversary dubbed “Life is impossible without mining”.
We view this theme not only as intellectually dishonest and mischievous, calculated to sweep the negative environmental, human rights, social and economic legacies under the carpet but also a feeble attempt, as usual, to manipulate the psyche of citizens into believing the Chamber’s construction of what constitute mining. In fact, what is particularly dishonest about the theme is the attempt by the Chamber to wrap all types of mining and interests into the industry’s particular conception of mining which has been inherently destructive and hostile to other interest. Artisanal small scale mining including also the winning of sand, clay and other minerals has long been consistent with traditional forms of community social and economic organisation. Today, corporate commercial mining advocated by the Chamber angles many other competing interests around mining. For instance, thousands of small scale miners are displaced by the Chamber’s construction of mining. Several of these small scale miners constitute the population who lost their farmlands to corporate commercial mining.
Again, even as mining is potentially important, the reality is that there are thousands of people out there whose daily livelihood choices have nothing to do with mining the type of mining conceived by the industry. At the national level, despite the long history of mining the Ghanaian state has benefited only marginally from mining. Today, it is no longer the lone voice of local communities and NGOs who argue that mining has not contributed enough to government revenue and national development but also multilateral institutions such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and indeed the architects of the current framework for mining i.e. the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet the environmental, human rights and social problems are in the increase as the industry searches for more grounds for mining, as they introduce new technologies and methods of mining, and as they collude with the state to lower national standards for mining. Therefore, this attempt to turn facts on their heads will not wash.
In its eighty years of existence, the Ghana Chamber of Mines directly and indirectly and through its strong lobby of the state continues to supervise:
·Massive destruction of the environment by mining companies
·Excessive deprivation of the national economy and citizens from accessing the full benefits of mineral resources
·Indiscriminate dislocation and displacement of local communities from their land, water resources and cultural heritage
·Increased violence and human rights abuses of people living in communities affected by mining as well as small-scale miners.
We could have left the propaganda of the Chamber to the public to judge. However due to the Chamber’s trajectory of massive propaganda in the last eighty years, we are compelled to offer an appropriate response. Because, our silence could be interpreted to mean that the Chamber is offering the truth.
As we celebrate the World Environment Day which falls on June 5th each year, we condemn the industry propaganda and demand of it to end:
·The destruction of the environment
·Deprivation of communities from ownership and access to their livelihoods
·The violence and human rights abuses perpetuated against people living in communities affected by mining.
·All such propaganda that is destructive to the productive capacity of the national economy.
The National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) is a grouping of communities, NGOs, and individuals engaged in mining sector advocacy for environmental sustainability, human and community rights, and national economic development.