Cardinal Namdini Mining Limited, a subsidiary of Shandong Gold, has successfully resettled more than 1,000 people from its concession area in the Talensi District in the Upper East Region, paving the way for the multi-million-dollar Namdini gold project to take off.
The mining company constructed accommodation facilities for a total of 119 households in two communities — Biung and New Accra, located within the same district.
The New Accra resettlement community is made up of 56 households, while Biung has 63 households.
Residents of the communities faced imminent health and other social risks from the intended mining activities in their old area, necessitating the effort to relocate them.
Aside from household accommodation, the new communities have also been provided clinics and residential apartments for health workers, as well as two schools with accommodation for teachers.
The communities also have three places of worship — chapels and mosques — along with streetlights, potable water and gravelled roads connecting the residences.
Two separate durbars of the chiefs and people of the Talensi Traditional Area were held in the two communities last Friday at which the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, cut the tape to officially open the facilities to the public for use.
Mr Jinapor explained that the communities were constructed in compliance with the provisions of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) and the Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2175).
L.I. 2175 stipulates that before any mining operation commences, mining companies must resettle persons who would be affected by their operations.
Act 703 empowers the sector minister to ensure that the resettlement is done on a suitable alternate land, paying particular attention to the well-being and social and cultural values of the people.
The minister commended the mining company for sticking to the resettlement plan that had been developed by experts, and for providing improved infrastructure in the two communities.
"Having gone through this rigorous process, I have no doubt about the suitability, integrity and the fitness for purpose of these two new communities," he said.
He urged the beneficiaries of the new communities to adhere to a high maintenance culture to ensure that the facilities benefited unborn generations.
Mr Jinapor also called on the chiefs and people of Talensi, where the mining activities would be carried out, to cooperate with the company to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for the business to thrive.
He observed that the best way to avoid tension between the mining company and the host community was for both parties to build a cordial relationship and use laid down procedures to seek redress for their grievances.
"To this end, I call on Cardinal Namdini Mining Limited not to neglect the communities after this resettlement, but to continue to engage and support them to settle-in at their new environment," he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of CNML, Luis Santana, described the successful relocation of the Biung and New Accra communities as a key milestone for the company.
He said an estimated one million ounces of gold would be produced during the first three years of operation, with an average 278 million ounces of gold prospected to be produced in the 15-year mine life.
Mr Santana said as part of measures to mitigate the impact of involuntary resettlement on the Biung and New Accra communities, the company had put in place a livelihood restoration and vulnerable assistance programme to provide economic empowerment and social enhancement to the project-affected people.
He explained that the beneficiaries of the livelihood restoration programme had been provided with agricultural extension services, tractors to plough their farms, farm inputs such as seedlings and fertilisers, as well as farm implements and weedicides.
Additionally, he said the company had engaged a non-governmental organisation known as Widows and Orphans Movement to implement a vulnerable assistance programme meant to support vulnerable households during the transition period of resettlement.
Mr Santana said under the programme, beneficiaries would be provided services such as free health care and food rations.
He added that the partnership between the company and the local stakeholders had culminated in the construction of a 25-kilometre road from Balungu to the mine site at a cost of $7 million.