The United States Forestry Service has asked the government of Ghana to be cautious with its plan to mine bauxite in one of the largest surviving rainforests in Ghana, the Atewa forest reserve.
The USFS which was providing technical consultation service to the government on the proposed project said: “there should be a comprehensive study of the costs and benefits of the plan, and development of a robust list of proven mitigation measures before any development takes place in Kibi.”
After various meetings with stakeholders including residents and traditional leaders within the Atewa enclave, the USFS said it is critical for the government to seriously evaluate other options including alternatives to mining in the forest.
In the report sighted by www.citinewsroom.com, the agency said mining in the forest could potentially have a significant and permanent impact on the forest reserve as well as water for over five million Ghanaians whose source of water is taken from the Atewa forest.
Among other things, the USFS recommended that the government provides the public with adequate information and also consult all stakeholders widely to ensure adequate support for the planned project before consideration is made for its execution.
“Development of the mining sites and associated downstream and side stream infrastructure will have substantial impacts on local communities, as well as those living in the Greater Accra region. It is critical that a robust stakeholder consultation process be conducted. It is recommended that the GoG preemptively provide public access to all information that is not proprietary. Transparency is key to ensure that relevant stakeholder groups are sufficiently apprised of the decision-making process, whatever is ultimately decided, and will also better ensure stakeholder buy-in to any future development,” the US Forest Service noted.
The Atewa forest reserve is one of the three areas being considered by the government for the mining of bauxite.
The other areas are Nyinahin and Awaso.
The newly created Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC) has been mandated to promote and develop an aluminium industry by expanding the value chain to include the mining of bauxite, as well as the refining, smelting, and marketing of finished products.
GAIDEC has estimated that the Nyinahin has about 750,000,0000 metric tonnes of bauxite reserve while Awaso has about 20,000,000 metric tonnes and the Atewa forest reserve has about 150,000,000 metric tonnes.
Several non-government organizations and environmental activists continue to campaign against the government’s intended action in the forest reserve which is considered a globally significant area in terms of biodiversity.
They argue that the negative impact of the mining activity on an animal, water and human life will be dire if the plan is carried out.