Baba Yara Stadium is now ready for CAN 2008.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Improve environmental practices. Minister urges Anglogold Ashanti

There are concerns about “not too good” environmental practices by Anglogold Ashanti Limited (AGA) at its Obuasi Mine.
A particular reference has been made about the Tailings Dam at Sanso, where there were a lot of seepages from the dam.
Although the company had initiated measures to recapture water from the seepage and pump it back into the dam that has been described as not good enough.
“We are accordingly asking AGA to develop a decommissioning programme for the current tailings dams and construct modern ones in line with international standards which was likely to reduce the seepages to zero percent”.
The Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Ayitey made the observations after a fact finding visit to the Obuasi Mines last Wednesday.
She noted that there was the need for the company to improve upon its environmental practices so as to ensure that the water bodies in the area were not polluted.
Tailings dams worldwide contain billions of tonnes of mineral processing industrial wastes which contains cyanide and mercury.
A violation of the safety requirements was likely to lead to the dam’s failure which would result in catastrophic consequences.
Ms Sherry Ayitey noted that the practice presently at Obuasi would not pass United Nation’s standards as well as requirements in the Water Act of 2007.
The Minister said environmental watchers were concerned about high standards and said there was the need for AGA to organise its activities to comply with modern standards, hence the need to decommission the present tailings dam at Sanso, which was about 15years old and other equally old ones and construct modern ones.
“We are not really satisfied with what we see here in Obuasi and would want to see good practices. Obuasi is surrounded by a number of rivers and if the safety practices are not good, these rivers are likely to be polluted,” the Minister said.
She stressed that her outfit had agreed on a decommissioning programme with AGA for the tailings dams and that what was left was for them to decide on the time frame for the decommissioning.
On efforts to help curb illegal mining (galamsey) activities in the area, Ms Ayitey called on AGA to institute a measure that would see them registering some of the galamsey operators, provide them with areas to work and control their activities.
She said such a move could go some way to help curb the activities and also called for the institution of more alternative sustainable livelihood programmes.
At a meeting with the chiefs of Sanso, a community in the Obuasi area where about 80percent of the activities of AGA take place, Nana Bawuah Fiamoa Kotokuo the chief of the town expressed worries about the environmental dangers in the area as a result of the mining activities.
He complained about the decision of AGA to surround the town with mining waste and expressed fears that, a landslide in the area as a result of a heavy downpour was likely to result in a catastrophe in the area.
He called on AGA to result to dialogue in dealing with galamsey activities instead of adopting a “militant” posture which would not help solve the problem.
He called on the company to suspend a proposed decision to cover one of its pits where galamsey activities were taking place and allow him the chance to talk to the people.
The chief said there was the need to institute very good sustainable livelihood programmes so as to attract the people from the galamsey activities.