A Rocha Ghana, an environmental non-governmental organization, has urgently reminded all investors and mining companies, especially the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC), ‘preferred strategic partner’, that the Atewa Forest is a no-go area for bauxite mining.
It said any investor or company planning to partner GIADEC in that endeavour would face immediate sustained local and international resistance.
GIADEC on Friday, August 5, 2022 announced that it had finalised negotiations with its ‘preferred strategic partner’ for the planned bauxite mining in the contested Atewa Forest (Project 3) which is going through the necessary approval processes.
A statement signed by Mr Daryl Bosu, Deputy National Coordinator for A Rocha Ghana, said the Atewa’s no-go area status for mining had already been made clear and as a reminder, it included the government’s April 2021 ban on prospect licensing and activities in all Ghana’s Forest Reserves, and Ghana’s mining guidelines that exclude sites like Atewa from mining.
The Environmental NGO statement again urged the government and GIADEC to exclude bauxite in the Atewa Forest as part of Ghana Integrated Aluminium Industry, because Ghana’s integrated aluminium industry can thrive without targeting the bauxite at Atewa Forest, “Ghana has both a ban on mining in Forest Reserves and mining guidelines that exclude Atewa from these developments.
It said mining a forest that protects critical water sources, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services would be both myopic and dangerous for Ghana, especially for Atewa’s communities and future Ghanaians.
It said Atewa’s 2021 status as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site triggers the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 6 (IFC-PS6) confirming Atewa as a no-go area for mining and the ECOWAS Mining Directive states that lands with ‘peculiar risks to the preservation of security including areas which have environmental, social and cultural sensitivity to mining operations’ – a category into which Atewa clearly falls – must be made no-go zones for mining.
The statement said A Rocha Ghana also reminded the government and GIADEC that only one year ago the Okyenhene, OsagyefoAmoatiaOforiPanin gave voice to his desire that the AtewaForest should be made a national park to be protected in perpetuity for the benefits his communities derive from the forest, “the King of the forest wishes must be respected.”
It said GIADEC and its partner should also be reminded that key multinational aluminium-user companies BMW, Tetra-Pak and Schüco International had expressed deep concerns about government’s plans, saying bauxite from the Atewa Forest would present an unacceptable risk for their companies.
The A Rocha statement added that resistance was also coming from local communities, civil society, professional institutions, state agencies, international development agencies, private companies, and individuals both in Ghana and abroad for a multitude of reasons.