A Senior Manager in Charge of Security at AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine, George Anyema has called for effective engagement of communities and stakeholders, including government and mining corporations, to reduce conflicts between communities and mining firms.
Mr. Anyema noted that establishing the right routes of communication and giving people access to information will bring about confidence and trust between communities where mining is conducted and the extracting companies.
“Addressing underlying issues of security in extractive industries requires a deliberate effort on the part of the players. These include effective engagement of communities and stakeholders, establishing channels of communication, providing adequate information, and training stakeholders on engagement,” he said.
Mr. Anyema was speaking on the topic “The Nexus Between Security and Extractive Sector Investments” at the 5th Ghana Mining and Energy Summit organised by the Ghana Chamber of Mines at the Accra International Conference Centre.
The three-day event brought together experts and stakeholders in the extractive and energy industries to share ideas, deliberate on how to make the sectors viable and sustainable as well as network with each other.
Mr. Anyema noted in his presentation that often communities are not constantly updated on issues surrounding the extraction of resources in their area and thus feel left out which then leads to conflicts and agitations. Providing constant updates will drastically reduce this, he said.
“Community leaders and their people often perceive that Mining firms are short-changing them as such tend to agitate which then leads to disruption of mining activities and conflicts. We, and here I mean governments and mining firms, constantly need to provide information, engage with the communities to ensure all are on the same page,” he said.
Other causative factors for conflicts, according to him, include inadequate development in the mining communities, environmental degradation especially destruction of farmlands, lack of trust between community members themselves, among others.
He said equitable benefit-sharing, including infrastructure, employment, contracting opportunities, and general economic development were some of the key measures to prevent conflicts.
“Others include mitigating negative impacts, such as environmental and gender impacts, through standards and best practices; transparent and effective management of revenues; strengthening the institutional and legal framework, establishing a framework that governs the development and management of the extractive industries,” he said.
Mr Anyema indicated that the effects of illegal mining and the “abused” community mining scheme are but other areas that disrupt and deprive the extractive of its concessions and by implication revenues. He also mentioned the threat arising out of terrorism and associated extremists acts as other security issues confronting the sector and called on stakeholders to work collaboratively to find a solution.
Mr. Anyema further noted in his closing remarks that a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) prepared by an independent party was crucial at the exploratory phase, and annually when the project reaches fruition to match expectations with real results.
“At the end of the day, even though corporate investment is usually made with high hopes, the cyclical nature of extractive industries implies that no matter how optimistic the prospects appear, thoughtful planning must be done to address the community’s interests in case the operation is closed,” he said.