The Voices of Tomorrow’s Leaders Foundation (VOTOLEAF), a Prestea-based advocacy group on mining issues has lauded the government for intervening and responding promptly to issues raised by the Group concerning mining activities of the Golden Star Resources.

In a press statement issued and signed by Joe Emmanuel Nkrumah, Executive Director, VOTOLEAF, the Group expressed their satisfaction with the approach adopted so afar by the current administration in handling the concerns raised by VOTOLEAF regarding mining activities in Prestea and its environs.

They intimated that, although the issues raised have not been fully resolved, they welcome the directive not to grant Golden Star Resources permit to extend its operations to Mbease Nsuta, a suburb of Prestea, until concerns raised by VOTOLEAF and other stakeholders are addressed.

It will be recalled that in 2002 the then-government entered into an agreement with Golden Star Resources on a joint venture which allowed the company to own a share in the Prestea underground mine, which was purported to have undergone a two-year transformation and rehabilitation — but till date has not seen any improvement, the statement observed.

The statement also commended Mike Hammah, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who in the heat of their protestation and petitions to government took the initiative to visit Prestea and verify the truth or otherwise of the concerns being raised. It noted with concern, the position of the Minister — for the Company to produce a possible revamp plan of the underground mine within a month or face the risk of having their licence to operate revoked.

Furthermore, they declared their support for the Sector Minister and urged him not to relent in his efforts to ensure that the Company abides by the directive issued. They however appealed to him to exercise caution in dealing with the Company, as it can employ other tactics to dodge its responsibilities to the people of the area and its environs.

Like Oliver Twist, they again reminded government of their objection to surface mining — which they hold is dangerous, unhealthy and a threat to the underground mine — and for that matter that they are awaiting the next move of the Sector Minister as the one-month ultimatum given to Golden Star to put together a possible revamp plan for the underground mine nears the deadline.

As an advocacy group dedicated to fighting for the interests of the people of Prestea and its surrounding communities, they called on the chiefs and Member of Parliament of the area to help bring about development for the various communities rather than allowing ‘galamsey’ activities in the area — which has contributed to the woes of the Prestea community and also has less to offer the youth, the statement further noted.

They concluded their statement by calling on all stakeholders, international organisations such as OXFAM and Third World Network as well as local organisations like WACAM, ISODEC, Publish What You Pay, and all media houses to join their cause to champion the fight against the wrongs being unleashed on poor mining communities like Prestea.

By Kizito CUDJOE, Prestea

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