An Obuasi based research and advocacy group, the Center for Social Impact Studies(CeSIS), is appealing to the various mining companies to frequently engage communities on resettlement and compensation.
According to the group, mining is a critical industry for the global economy, but its impact on local communities is often a cause of concern.
CeSIS, in a presentation, shed some light on the issue through its findings on the impact of mining on local communities in Obuasi.
The presentation was aimed at educating participants on the rights of the affected communities and the actions that need to be taken by mining companies.
According to the Executive Director of the Center for Social Impact Studies, Ali Tanti Robert, the organization has extensive experience working in mining communities over 10 years, with a particular focus on issues related to resettlement and compensation.
With the support of the Third World Network and the ‘Power of Our Voices Project’, CeSIS commissioned a research study in the Ahafo and Ashanti regions to investigate the experiences of communities regarding resettlement and compensation.
Through surveys, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews, the study examined three unique communities in the Adansi area, including Bidiem who were resettled 26 years ago under the 1992 resettlement law. Dokyiwaa resettled in 2011 and Anwiem wishes to be resettled due to the risks posed by the mining company.
The study found that most communities were not aware of laws and policies related to resettlement and compensation, including those passed in 2012. The research further found out that some of the communities were not equipped to negotiate with mining industries operating in their area.
Additionally, the study found out that AngloGold Ashanti had a policy on compensation, but the communities were not aware of it, and those that had received compensation were not satisfied with the outcome.
Robert also stated that as a result of these findings, CeSIS has made several policy recommendations to AngloGold Ashanti, including increased engagement with communities to ensure their understanding of relevant laws and policies, and the need for communities to become more knowledgeable about the law to better negotiate with mining companies.
He said, “CeSIS also plans to conduct workshops and public training to educate communities about their rights. They will also collaborate with radio stations and other media outlets to share information to the general public. And engage in constructive dialogue with AngloGold Ashanti to build a more positive relationship between the company and the communities in which it operates”.
The report which has been validated, according to him, will be submitted to relevant policymakers and stakeholders.
The Executive Director of CeSIS assured participants that, their research will also emphasize the urgent need to ensure that the rights of local communities affected by mining operations are respected and that they receive fair and adequate compensation.
Sharing his thoughts on CeSIS research, the President of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled in Obuasi Municipal, Karim Iddrisu, emphasized that the community has been eagerly awaiting evidence-based studies of this nature.
Mr. Iddrisu expressed his satisfaction with the research by CeSIS and urged Anglogold Ashanti to give careful consideration to the research documents provided to them and to make their policies on resettlement and compensation more transparent.
This, he believed will bring peace and prevent future misunderstandings, adding that similar research in the past could have prevented previous misunderstandings.
A resident of Anwiem-Obuasi, Kojo Appiah, expressed appreciation to CeSIS and remarked that it has helped the communities to understand the positive and negative impact of mining activities on them by the mining companies.
He expressed confidence that CeSIS research will lead to some improvements in the various communities.
Mr. Appiah also highlighted the challenges faced by his community, citing instances of destruction to homes and livestock as a result of surface mining operations in 1992 and 2004, and an accompanying death in 2004.
He further noted that the difficulties faced by his community keep occurring.
In most cases, the indigenes stated that, the rights of the affected communities were ignored, coupled with inadequate compensation and resettlement packages provided to many of the communities.
The research conducted by CeSIS revealed a number of problems affecting local communities from the impact of the mining industries.