Manya Krobo Traditional Council blocks GHACEM from limestone mining

The Manya Krobo Traditional Council, landowners and communities around limestone concessions in the Krobo enclave have kicked against plans by West African Quarries Limited (WAQL) to resume quarry operations in the area.

WAQL is a subsidiary of GHACEM, a Cement Producing Company in Ghana.

According to the aggrieved stakeholders, GHACEM failed to pay the right compensation to the landowners and refused to enter into Corporate Social Responsibility Agreement with the communities throughout its 14 years operation in the area.

They have, therefore, vowed not to allow GHACEM’s subsidiary firm access to the area to resume operation without due processes and a documented agreement on deprivation, compensation with stakeholders.

WAQL officially began mining limestone in the Krobo area in 2004 and plans by it to move ahead to another concession was met with strong resistance.

The Manya Krobo Traditional Council, on September 17, 2014, wrote to the Minerals Commission explaining why it ordered WAQL to cease operations until further notice in areas such as Popotia, Yokuhe, Yonguase, and Ponpong.

The letter indicated among other things that GHACEM’s operation in those areas was illegal because both the Lower Manya Krobo Municipal Assembly and the Traditional Council objected to the issuance of reconnaissance license to GHACEM by the Minerals Commission.

GHACEM, however, in the same year sued the Traditional Council for interference. The suit, which was filed at the Koforidua High Court, has Nene Agbau Narh III, Divisional Chief of Djebiam, and five others as defendants. The suit seeks among other things an order of injunction to restrain the defendants from interfering with the concession.

Attempts by GHACEM to settle amicably the standoff with the Traditional Council and Landowners at a meeting held in Odumase with the case is still pending at the Court were inconclusive.

Asafoatse Dautey Anyimah, Chairman Land Management, and Minerals committee of the Manya Krobo Traditional Council said their objection was to prevent GHACEM’s virtual monopoly over the large stretch of limestone deposit in the area amidst its disregard to an agreement with the communities.

“Since the past 14 years, initially when they came to commission the project, Cecilia Bannerman, then Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources and President Kufuor pleaded to us to allow the company work and so later came with an agreement but since then GHACEM has not submitted to any agreement.

“They go to the villages, call people together and give them little…little amount to deceive them. As the law demands, the traditional Council, the District Assembly, the Landowners should come together to write an agreement with the company but this has not been done for the past 14 years and yet they want to resume operation in another concession without Agreement of compensation, Corporate Social responsibility, environmental management, and Royalty so we have stopped to do the right thing,” he said.

Environmental effect of limestone lining in the area

Air, water pollution and earth tremor as a result of blasting are major effects the extractions of limestone in the area over the years have afflicted on the people living around.

Research conducted indicated in communities such as Bueryonye, Odugblase, Klo-Agogo, and Oterkpolu during the active operation of WAQL recorded unacceptable air pollution level three times above the EPA, Ghana daily guideline level of 70 micrograms per cubic meter over a time-weighted average per 24 hours.

Mean dry season results recorded in these communities stand at 125.0 µg/m 3 for Bueryonye, 116.0 µg/m 3 at Odugblase and 109.3 µg/m 3 at Klo-Begoro. Oterkpolu community which served as the control recorded an average of 50.5 µg/m 3. Average rainy season values recorded for the communities were 83.3 µg/m 3 for Bueryonye, 113.1 µg/m 3 at Odugblase and 74.4 µg/m 3 at Klo-Begoro. The control community, Oterkpolu, had 43.3 µg/m.

According to an Assembly Member in the mining area, Tetteh Bio -Emmanuel, WAQL deposited mining waste materials on his land without compensation creating an environmental mess.

He said during their operations, river bodies, homes, crops were all polluted. He also alleged that buildings developed cracks as a result of the blasting without compensation hence there is tension in the area upon hearing the attempt by the company to resume operation.

Source: Ghana/ Ansah

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