Some Community leaders in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region have been empowered to engage mining companies in the area to maximize benefits from the exploration of the mineral resources in the area while ensuring environmental protection.
The leaders were also taken through how to resolve mining issues between stakeholders without breeding conflicts.
The capacity building programme was organized by the Foundation for the Transformation of Marginal Areas (TAMA Foundation) Universal, a Non-Governmental Organization, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, brought together Chiefs, Queen Mothers, and Opinion Leaders and Assembly members.
Mr. Jonathan Adabre, Operations Manager of TAMA Foundation Universal, speaking to participants said Northern Ghana emerged as a mining destination in the country with various mining companies operating in it.
Mr. Adabre indicated that statistics from the Minerals Commission of Ghana, show that 270 licenses have been granted to companies for gold prospecting and reconnaissance purposes in the area.
“Across the five regions of the north, five leases have been granted to companies for large scale, deep underground mining with three already operating in the Upper East and Upper West regions, 24 restricted leases have also been granted for the exploration of other solid minerals. On top of these, are 117 small-scale mining entities engaged in surface and deep pits mining activities”, he added.
To ensure transparency and accountability in the extraction of natural resources in Northern Ghana with a particular focus on mining, Operations Manager said TAMA Foundation Universal secured funding from the Ford Foundation to implement the project to empower community leaders to amplify their voices in the management of the resource.
Mr. Adabre stated that the goal of the project was to ensure that extraction and utilization of minerals resources are beneficial to mineral-rich communities and contributes to a balanced and sustainable development of society in general.
He noted that the project is to build capacities of the community leaders through advocacy and communication skills to enable them to engage with mining companies, regulatory agencies, duty bearers, and other key stakeholders for their share of benefits of mining and reduced environmental impact.
“As mining expands across Northern Ghana, it holds a potential to contribute to reducing north-south inequalities. However, this is only possible if mining communities have the knowledge and capacity to engage effectively with mining companies, government, and other relevant state institutions to claim their rights and entitlements and where needed accountability mechanisms and structures exist, alongside a strong civil society, playing its facilitating and oversight role to ensure gold resources are extracted and utilized in a transparent and accountable manner”, he stressed.
Dr. Samuel Marfo, a Senior Lecturer of the University for Development Studies (UDS), one of the facilitators of the programme, urged the community leaders never to engage in violent acts with mining companies in addressing their differences but rather use dialogue.
He regretted instances where there have been recorded incidences of deaths casualties as a result of confrontation, pollution, and destruction of natural resources and called on the stakeholders to help in addressing such issues amicably.