The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has called for calm among residents and NGOs in Atewa over the government’s plan toleverage its bauxite deposits in the Atewa Forest Reserve to secure a $2 billion loan from China.
He said the government is committed to sustainable mining and will ensure that the mineral resource is exploited responsibly in the forest reserve.
Some residents and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have in the past several months staged protests to impress upon the government to back down on the plan, but it appears the government is determined to give out the concession.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta while delivering the 2018 mid-year budget review before Parliament announced that the government had reached an agreement with a Chinese company Sino-hydro Group Limited to finance $2 billion of the country’s infrastructure in exchange for the nation’s bauxite reserve at Atewa.
But the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, which has been holding various media engagements and non-violent protests has stressed that while it is not against bauxite mining in Ghana, mining the mineral in the Atewa forest will have a more devastating effect on citizens including a potential loss of their water source.
However, the sector minister, Peter Amewu, told Citi News that the government has taken note of their concerns and will ensure that the exploitation of bauxite in the reserve will not have any negative impact on residents.
“I can assure them that it will not be the normal thing that happens across the African continent. It is going to be done in a more responsible and sustainable way. They will enter a mining site and people will not even realize that mining is being done. I think everybody will accept this principle of responsible mining. Their genuine concern is because of what they have witnessed over all these years, the manner mining has been done in Africa and in Ghana. I can tell them that when it comes to this particular one, it is going to be different,” he said.
“I will ask them to exercise patience and when we come out, there are going to be baseline surveys that we are going to do… Those surveys will tell us exactly which direction we are going,” he added.
Some analysts have said that the legal battle between the government and mining firm, Exton Cubic, may delay the implementation of the $2 billion deal with the Chinese engineering firm, Sinohydro Group Limited at Atewa.
But the Minister has allayed those fears, assuring that the agreement will be implemented without challenges.