Big mining companies fail to meet environmental standards, legal requirements
Trend analysis conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the performance of the mining sector in 2012 has shown that some mining companies once again have failed in meeting environmental standards and legal requirements.
Major companies that received the red grading (meaning their overall performance was poor) are AngloGold Ashanti Limited’s Obuasi mine, Ghana Bauxite Company Limited – Awaso, Gold Fields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine) and Golden Star (Bogoso/Prestea) Limited.
The rest were Owere Mines Limited – Konongo, Perseus Mining Limited – Ayanfuri and Prestea Sankofa Gold Limited – Prestea.
Launching the 2012 and Fourth Public Disclosure for the Environmental Performance Rating dubbed “Akoben” in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer of the EPA, Mr Daniel S. Amlalo, said although generally there had been an improvement in how mining operations were conducted in the country, the ratings for 2012 showed the performance of some mining companies was very poor.
For instance, he said, AngloGold Ashanti Limited, Obuasi, had a red under ‘toxic releases’ and orange under ‘non-toxic releases’, ‘monitoring and reporting’, and environmental best practices, which accounted for their overall poor performance.
“There can be improvement in waste management, but once legal issues have failed it is automatic red,” he said.
Presenting the results for the EPA’s 2012 assessment involving 16 mining companies, Mr Amlalo listed Chirano Gold Mines Limited and the Ghana Manganese Company Limited as having attained green(very good) ;Golden Star Wassa Limited and Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, blue (good); Abosso Goldfields (Damang) Limited, Adamus Resources Limited, AngloGold Ashanti (Iduapriem) Limited, Newmont Golden Ridge Resources – New Abirem and Noble Gold Bibiani Limited – orange (satisfactory).
The seven other companies – AngloGold Ashanti Limited (Obuasi Mine), Ghana Bauxite Company Limited – Awaso, Gold Fields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine), Golden Star (Bogoso/Prestea) Limited, all had the red grading.
Disclosing that companies which had consistently attained red would receive sanctions, Mr Amlalo said the EPA was still negotiating the extent of the sanctions with the Ghana Chamber of Mines.
He said from next year assistance would be offered to the mining companies that had consistently been graded red.
The help would involve taking environmental officers of the companies through certification process, new techniques, methodology and compliance systems.
However, analysis done in 2009 when the EPA launched its first assessment indicated that out of the 11 mining companies involved, only one company (Chirano Gold Mines Limited) was graded orange (satisfactory), while the other 10 were graded red (poor).
In 2010 six companies received the red grading, whereas in 2011 eight were graded red.
That notwithstanding, Abosso Goldfields Limited – (Damang Mine) and Newmont Ghana Gold Limited – Kenyasi) attained blue; Golden Star(Wassa) Limited, Chirano Gold Mines Limited and Ghana Manganese Company Limited – Nsuta had orange and others were graded red.
The year 2011 saw the first green rating of the Ghana Manganese Company Limited – Nsuta, with five companies attaining orange and eight others obtaining red.
Two companies attained blue, two others green, five had orange and the remaining seven got red in 2012.
Mr Amlalo explained that the companies had to perform very well in all the seven pointers to attain a blue, a green or a gold final rating, which is yet to be experienced in the Akoben.
Answering a question from a participant, Mr Amlalo said the EPA’s database on small-scale miners would enable the agency to also monitor their activities from next year.
Ministry introduces award
A speech read on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr (Mrs) Bernice Heloo, said the ministry would from next year institute an environmental trophy, which would be presented to the deserving mining company during the commemoration of World Environment Day, every year.
She said the assessment done by the EPA would also from next year be expanded to include issues on environment, water supply, sanitation, forestry and climate management, among others.
The Public Affairs and Environment Director of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Ahmed Dasana Nantogmah, asked the EPA to review its assessment methodology, and that the mining companies would be guided by the approval of permits to minimise impact.
By Edmund Smith-Asante/Daily Graphic/Ghana