Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, said the country’s legal framework for mining operations did not have enough protection for community rights.
The law had no provisions for “No Go Zones” for mining and this had led to a situation where mining companies had been able to seek mining concessions in forest reserves, she said.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said most of the forest reserves in Ghana were sitting on gold and other mineral reserves and this made the reserves a target for exploitation.
Mining laws in Ghana are also silent on provisions that address cyanide spillages and chemical pollution of water bodies as well as community participation in decision-making processes.
A clear demarcation of active mining operations from communities, water bodies, and protected areas of the country is needed to help curb and outlaw the practice whereby companies used water heads for mining activities, she said.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said a critical look at the Minerals and Mining Act (703) reveals that it had no provisions on human rights audits and reporting in mining as well as conflict resolution mechanisms.
Though the general public accepted the need to reform the mining laws, successive governments lacked the political will to undertake such reforms, she said.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said the ECOWAS Directive for the harmonisation of policies on mining, which had been ratified and gazetted provided a benchmark for the reforms of the mining laws.
She said it was based on these reforms that WACAM, a human rights and environmental mining advocacy organisation, had taken the mandate to embark on a project to strengthen its community groups and networks for advocacy on mining law reforms.
The main objective of this “WACAM OSIWA Project” is to use Rights Based-Approach to strengthen capacity of community-based organisations and mining communities for effective engagement and advocacy for reforms in mining the laws.
The specific objectives are to increase target mining community awareness on the provisions in the ECOWAS Directives and sensitisation on environmental and community rights to livelihoods.
The 15-month project, she said, would be carried out in 12 communities in Western, Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions.
They are Saaman, Akyem Heman, Yayaso, Osino, Busoso, Abompeh in Eastern, Prestea, Maase Nsuta, Brepro and Teberebie in Western and Donkro-Nkwanta, SalamKrom, Damso, Kenyase and Kantinka in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Mrs Koranteng said the project sought to work with the beneficiary communities for effective engagements with policy makers on community rights and mineral law reforms.