From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Nyinahin
The spirited defence put up by the communicators of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to justify the invasion of the Nyinahin Forest Reserve by Exton Cubic Group Limited, which is partly owned by the wife of Mr Ibrahim Mahama, a business mogul, has been made useless by the pronouncement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the conduct of the mining company was illegal.
Even since the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei Mensah ordered the seizure of the earth moving machines belonging to Engineers and Planners, which has been contracted by Exton Cubic Group Limited to mine for the latter, followers of the umbrella party have read meanings into it.
To them, Exton has legitimate license to do prospecting in the area and that the action of the Ashanti Regional Minister was politically motivated.
The local people, however, disagree with this assertion and went on a demonstration yesterday at Nyinahin, to urge the government to stop the intended mining in the forest reserve.
In a petition, which was signed by Jacob Baba Yaro and a host of other local authorities and channeled through the assistant planning officer of the Atwima Mponua district assembly, Samuel Owusu-Mensah, they respectfully appealed to President Akufo-Addo to impound the excavators, bulldozers and trucks of Exton Cubic Group limited, owing to their wrongful entry to mine bauxite at Tano Offin, without proper documentation at the Assembly.
This, they noted, is against section 91 subsection 1 of the Local Government Act 2016 Act 936. The Act reads, “A person shall not carry out a physical development in a district except with the prior written approval in the form of a written permit issued by the district planning authority.”
According to the petitioners: “It is an undeniable fact that that the presence of Exton Cubic Company Limited has created tension in the district, there is already tension in the district regarding Chieftaincy issues, therefore, we are appealing to you, Mr President, to immediately impound and return all the machinery of Exton Cubic Company, until the proper agreement is done by both stakeholders”.
The petitioners also complained to President Akufo-Addo that the aforementioned company had never engaged the community in a social responsibility forum before.
Jacob Baba Yaro and other opinion leaders continued in the petition: “The Company has not done publication in the community as mining laws require and that, no parliamentary ratification as the 1992 constitution requires under Article 268 clause (1).
“We emphatically recommend that, Exton Cubic Company machines at the forest must be out of the district within 24 hours from now!!! . Until proper documentation agreements are done.”
The EPA statement, which was signed by the Executive Director, Peter Abum Sarkodie and released in Accra yesterday, appears to support the stance of the local people.
According to the statement, “Exton Cubic Group Limited has not obtained the required EPA permit under its mining lease and, therefore, any attempt to enter the area for mining activity is illegal.”
The following is the full statement released by the EPA;
The attention of the EPA has been drawn to a situation that has arisen regarding an attempt by Exton Cubic Group Limited to enter the Nyinahin bauxite deposit area for the purpose of undertaking mining activities. As a result of the public interest in the matter, the EPA would like to clarify the position of Exton Cubic Group Limited’s Environmental Permit status under its Mining Lease (that is a necessary condition for any mining activity). The bottom line is that Exton Cubic Group Limited has not obtained the required EPA permit under its mining lease and therefore any attempt to enter the area for mining activity is illegal.
On 29th March 2016, Exton Cubic Group Limited applied for three separate Environmental Permits from the EPA to undertake prospecting of bauxite on its Mprasaso, Kiriyaso, and Kyekyewere concessions in the Ashanti region covering a total of 346.08 km sq. The EPA granted the Environmental Permits to Exton Cubic Group Limited on 7th June 2016. The company among other conditions was to notify the EPA as soon as prospecting activities commenced and also to submit within three months from the date of issuance of the Environmental Permit a liability estimate of environmental degradation to enable the posting of the Reclamation Bond in line with Regulation 23 of the Environmental Assessment Regulation 1999 (LI 1652). Exton Cubic Group Limited unfortunately reneged on all these conditions. The prospecting permits are therefore no longer valid. Exton Cubic Group Limited subsequently acquired a Mining Lease on 29th December 2016 from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, This mining lease requires a new EPA permit which has not been granted by the EPA. The EPA’s discussions with the company and its consultants indicated that the following documents are required to support their application for in EPA permit under its Mining lease:
- Submission to EPA of a “No objection” letter from Cabinet;
- Completion and submission of statutory environmental assessment form (EA2); and
- Notification from the EPA to the company to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment which would have led to a broader public consultation and “public hearings’ within the relevant catchment communities in line with Regulation 17 of the Environmental Assessment regulations, 1999 (LI 1652).
Failure of the company to comply with the above stated conditions as at the time of the issuance of this press release has rendered all environmental permits null and void, Again, the EPA wishes to state that any mining activity to be conducted by the Exton Cubic Group Limited within the concession areas, of which Environmental Permit is being sought is not consistent with the Environmental Assessment Procedures of the EPA, LI1652 and is therefore illegal.
From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Nyinahin The spirited defence put up by the communicators of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to justify the invasion of the Nyinahin Forest Reserve by Exton Cubic Group Limited, which is partly owned by the wife of Mr Ibrahim Mahama, a business mogul, has been made useless by the pronouncement of the […] Read Full Story