Newmont Ghana Ltd. has refuted claims that it connived with the police to arrest members of the Concern Farmers Association on its Ahafo North Project site.
According to the mining company, in a press statement copied to BusinessWeek, the members were arrested and arraigned before the Duayaw Nkwanta circuit court on 30th August 2023, and were subsequently granted bail and were directed not to return to the company’s mining area until the determination of the case by the court.
However, the Association members ignored the court’s directive and proceeded to disrupt work at the mining area the very next day, 1st September 2023, leading to the arrest of four of them, including John Mensah.
Newmont stressed it will continue to “respect the rights of its stakeholders Newmont Africa remains committed to responsibly progressing the Ahafo North project and in line with the due human rights requirements and processes”.
It added it will continue constructive and organised dialogue with all stakeholders on all issues of mutual concern to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business and the jobs, incomes, tax revenues and other benefits the company provides.
Below is the full press statement
Newmont Africa has noted with concern, media publications alleging connivance with the police to arrest some members of the Concerned Farmers Association in its Ahafo North Project’s mining area.
Newmont Africa remains committed to progressing the Ahafo North Project responsibly and sustainably, having due regard for the human rights of all persons affected by the Project.
The company respects and proactively engaged in good faith dialogue to reach mutually acceptable solutions. The Ahafo North Project has therefore enjoyed strong community, regulatory, and broader stakeholder support and approval.
Ahafo North land access and Concerned Farmers’ claims
In compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, Newmont has accessed over 98% of the land required to begin construction of the Project.
About 2,500 farmers and landowners have been compensated, following negotiations and agreements with the Resettlement and Crop Rate Negotiation Committees, jointly constituted by impacted farmers, property owners, traditional leaders, as well as community and government representatives.
Some 21 farmers, belonging to the Concerned Farmers Association, however, refused to abide by the outcome of the negotiations and subsequently declined enumeration of their farms and structures.
They have been uncooperative despite the extensive engagement and mediation efforts aimed at addressing their concerns, including interventions by eminent traditional chiefs, youth leaders, and other relevant stakeholders.
The group is demanding individual negotiations that could result in potential rates beyond what was agreed upon by the Resettlement and Crop Rate Negotiation Committees, which rates are significantly more than the assessed professional and government valuation rates or lower negotiated rates leading to unfair compensation in comparison to the already 2,500 compensated farmers and further dissatisfaction with the compensation process.
Disruption of land-clearing activities
Following full compensation for over 98% of lands required for mine construction, Newmont commenced clearing of these compensated lands within the Ahafo North Project’s mining area. Unfortunately, some members of the Concerned Farmers Association have actively and aggressively disrupted land-clearing activities by the company and its contractors.
The company has largely resorted to good faith engagement and dialogue in these instances, to reduce tension and maintain peaceful co-existence.
Impact on uncompensated land
There was an incident where the company’s exploration team inadvertently impacted one of the farms that had not yet been compensated for.
In this instance, the company engaged the owners of the land, who are members of the Association to amicably resolve the impact. They initially agreed for the temporary exploration activities to proceed while adequate compensation was discussed.
However, one John Mensah, who is the chairman of the Association, mobilised other members of the Association whose land had not been impacted, to halt the exploration drilling activities on the said parcel of land, threatening to burn the exploration drill rig, among other equipment. The exploration activity was stopped, the rigs demobilised, and the drill holes covered.
The vandalisation of company property on compensated land
In a separate incident, Mr. John Mensah led some Association members to attack Newmont’s mining team during a land-clearing exercise on a parcel of land that had been negotiated and compensated for by the company. This time, the company’s vehicle was vandalized during the attack, prompting the company to report the incident to the police.
The members were arrested and arraigned before the Duayaw Nkwanta circuit court on 30th August 2023. The court granted them bail and directed them not to return to the company’s mining area until the determination of the case by the court.
The Association members ignored the court’s directive and proceeded to disrupt work at the mining area the very next day, 1st September 2023, leading to the arrest of four of them, including John Mensah.
Claims by Concerned Farmers Association regarding the destruction of John Mensah’s Farm In the media publications, the Concerned Farmers Association made claims that members of the Association were on their way to their farms when they noticed that the farm of their chairman, John Mensah, was being destroyed by Newmont.
The land in question is not owned by John Mensah. He is a tenant farmer. The said land has been fully assessed and due compensation has been paid to the farmland owner, following the owner’s request to Newmont to carry out the assessment, and John Mensah’s refusal to allow for same.
John Mensah was duly notified of the landowner’s request for assessment and payment of compensation. After the assessment, John Mensah proceeded to harvest all the mature teak trees on the farm before the Newmont team started the land clearing.
Newmont will continue to respect the rights of its stakeholders Newmont Africa remains committed to responsibly progressing the Ahafo North project and in line with the due human rights requirements and processes.
It will continue constructive and organised dialogue with all stakeholders on all issues of mutual concern to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business and the jobs, incomes, tax revenues and other benefits the company provides.
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