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Some people fetching water from the Akusu River which is at the centre of the rift between the youth and the mining company

The stand-off between Kibi Goldfields Limited, based at Osino in the Fanteakwa District of the Eastern region and ‘galamsey’ operators is creating tension at Samaang after a combined team of police and military personnel swooped on ‘galamsey’ operators on Kibi Goldfields’ concessions at Samaang.

They also seized two water pump machines belonging to the illegal miners.

The youth of the town on Friday, March 18, 2011 demonstrated at Saamang against the operations of the Kibi Goldfields Ltd and the swoop followed suit.

They accused the company of causing damage to their water bodies and lands.

The Assembly Member of Saamang Electoral area, Gyeatou Kyenkyenku Nabot told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that the military/police ‘invasion’ of the town on Tuesday, March 22 was instigated by the Kibi Goldfields Ltd, adding that they came to intimidate the youth of the town because they were against the operation of Kibi Goldfields Ltd.

11 people were arrested after the youth of Saamang smashed the windscreen of the patrol car of the military and blocked the road with concrete light pole and burnt tyres.

They were however sent to the Anyinam police station but released the following day.

The chief of the town, Barima Okoampa Agyemang, who was not in the town at the time of the incident, told this paper that the demonstration, which was allegedly masterminded by the assembly member for the area, was quite premature, since Kibi Goldfields had legally acquired the concession and was going through all the formal legalities to ensure that gold is mined without creating any problem in the community.

According to the chief, so far more than 200 men and women from the area have been employed by the mining company to help transform their lives in the community.

He noted that the assembly member was trying to cause unnecessary tension because he made it a campaign message during the recent district assembly elections to lead a crusade to ‘drive’ Kibi Goldfields Limited from Saamang lands in order to give unlimited freedom to the illegal miners in the area to do business.

He said it is better for the community to dialogue with the mining company and see how their differences could be resolved rather than resorting to demonstrations and violence.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Kibi Goldfields Limited, Richard Opoku Fordjour, for his part, said all the charges by the community were unfounded because the company has not even started mining.

“We are only doing sampling to test the viability of prospecting in the area,” he explained, adding that the company has acquired a total of 49.95km square of land stretching from Juaso, Saamang, Abompe, Osino, Nsutam, Dwenase, Asiakwa to Pusupusu in the Fanteakwa District and the East Akim municipalities for their operations.

He stated that it is not true that the company has destroyed water bodies such as Anoma and Akusu Rivers.

“As part of our plans we want to divert the course of the Akusu River if we start business so that our operations do not affect the river which is a major source of drinking water for the people in the community.”

“It is true that we have constructed dams but these are not close to any of the water bodies and we constructed the dams so that the water collected in them will be used to feed the plant after which it would be re-cycled back to the dam without relying on any river or water body,” he noted.

He said the company has set up a committee to negotiate on how much compensation should be given to all farmers, whose land would be affected by the company’s operation.

“Even before we start operations, we have met the opinion leaders of the town on several occasions and they have made it known to us that they want a new funeral ground, computer lab, a health centre and so far we have been able to patch all potholes on the main road leading to the town from Osino, we have built the funeral grounds,  provided GH¢ 5,000 for the renovation of the chief’s palace and also provided blocks for the construction of the computer lab for the town’s D/A JSS,” he said.

He said the company has already been given a mining lease, stressing that they are seriously working on their environment permit before full-scale operations begin.

This paper visited the Anoma and Akusu streams and realised that they were very clean. People were also seen fetching water for domestic use.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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