Environmental Contaminant associated with mining activities is one of the negative impacts which causes disturbances on wildlife species and affects biodiversity with plants and animals being worse affected.
Two years into operations by Newmont Golden Ridge Limited -Akyem Project, in a productive forest reserve in the Akyem area in the Eastern Region, it has been established that biodiversity is being restored to its natural state as wildlife animals which fled the area are returning.
Animals such as Bush Buck, African Palm, Mangoose, African Civet and reptiles among many others are resurfacing.
Speaking to the Daily Heritage on the sidelines of a three-day workshop for members of Journalists for Business Advocates held at Akyem Afosu, the Environmental Manager of Newmont, Paul Dawson stated that the mining company is adhering to safe environmental standards in their operation in order to ensure that the impact of mining on the environment is mitigated.
“We have engaged Forest Research Institute of Ghana working with Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, they have fixed invisible cameras in the forest belt and the results show that, the wildlife animals who run away are returning due to safe environmental practice.”
During a visit to the mining site, Kofi Ntiri, General Forman at the site stated that, staff of the company found culpable of killing any wildlife animal is either dismissed or handed over to the police to face his own music “under no circumstance should you kill an animal, when you do that, we treat you as a murderer and if you are a murderer, we give you straight to police.”
Reclamation and Afforestation
Felix R.K Akpoh, senior manager of Sustainability and External Relations explained that Newmont Golden Ridge Limited undertakes concurrent reclamation of mined land as a result; Newmont has reclaimed 4.5 hectares of mined lands in the area.
He said Newmont has signed a commitment to replant trees lost as a result of the mining in a multiple spate. He mentioned that the first phase of the Afforestation project by the company has covered over 60 hectares.
The company which is expected to extract gold in 101 hectares envisages to cover over 300 hectares of Afforestation which would be three times the size of its operational areas.
During the visit to the plantation farm, it was noted that the trees planted are mostly indigenous plants.
Mr Akpoh also said another project known as Biodiversity Offset Project which seeks to restore all biological loses as a result of the mining, has been rolled out.
On his part, the External Relations Manager of Newmont Golden Ridge Limited-Akyem Project ,Oduro Kwarteng revealed that the International Cyanide Management Code (ICME) For the Manufacture, Transport, and Use of Cyanide In the Production of Gold " (Code) has issued license to Newmont Ghana after meeting safety standard criteria over the use of the chemicals in mining operations.
ICME is a multi- stakeholder Steering Committee under the guidance of the United Nations Environmental Program and the then- International Council on Metals and the Environment. The Code is an industry voluntary program for gold mining companies. It focuses exclusively on the safe management of cyanide and cyanidation mill tailings and leach solutions.
Companies that adopt the Code must have their mining operations that use cyanide to recover gold audited by an independent third party to determine the status of Code implementation.
Those operations that meet the Code requirements must be certified. Audit results are made public to inform stakeholders of the status of cyanide management practices at the certified operation.
The objective of the Code is to improve the management of cyanide used in gold mining and assist in the protection of human health and the reduction of environmental impacts.
A visit to the Tillage Storage Facility where Cyanide and other waste from the mining site are managed revealed that the place is well managed safely in conformity with the environment practices.
Mr. Kwarteng said good management of Cyanide by the company made it possible for cyanide to be licensed.
Corporate social responsibility
The management of Newmont Akyem Mines, in the Eastern region also revealed that the company has invested US$ 5,121,373.16 out of the $7million budgeted this year for the corporate social responsibility in the host communities which include transportation, accommodation, construction, supply of basic materials, education and health among others.
According to Mr Kwarteng, $2.5 million dollars was recently spent to construct road in the operational area.
He said all these projects were executed by local firms in which over 400 indigenous firms on its local content were engaged in operations in 2014.
"We at Newmont have made a commitment to the people of New Abirem and the surrounding communities to create an avenue for them to participate in the operations of the company to help provide employment and a livelihood for them,” he said.
The team also visited New Abirem Government Hospital where Newmont has built a maternity ward, female ward, doctors’ bungalow, nurses’ quarters, a theater block and recently provided the hospital with a 275KVA generator set at a cost of GH¢ 108,619.00.
Source: Daily Heritage
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