Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, The Associate Executive Director of Wacam has criticised Ghana’s weak mining laws, saying: “The only way to hold mining companies to responsible corporate behaviour is to develop strong mining laws.”
She said beyond the negative economic, environmental, and health consequences of surface operations, mining companies are treated as “Pampered” entities with tax incentives, while companies that do not cause such social and environmental harm to society do not enjoy such incentives.
Mining companies according to her enjoy tax incentives that deprive other important sectors of the economy of revenues that are required for development.
The Associate Executive Director of WACAM stated that” A very good example of what I am talking about pertains to the maritime industry where revenues from taxes for the importation of mining equipment are zero rated as provided in section 29 of the Minerals and Mining Act(ACT 703)2006.”
Speaking at a Responsible Mining Forum on the theme” Achieving Responsible Mining Goals: A Reality Or A Mirage?” in Accra, she said the weakness of Ghana’s mining laws is an indication of the strength of the mining lobby and the country’s inability to hold the mining companies to responsible mining practices.
Hannah Owusu-Koranteng said” we would not be able to hold mining companies to responsible mining practices with our existing weak laws which prescribe weak penalties for infractions of the law including prescribing fines as low as 5,000 US dollars in addition to the provision that if the fine cannot be paid, ” amount shall be recoverable as civil debt to the State.”
She added that the only way to hold mining companies to responsible corporate behaviour is to develop strong mining laws.
The Minerals and mining laws of Ghana according to her should contain provisions for the right of host communities to “Free Prior Informed Consent( FPIC)” to empower mining communities to resist mining operations that have the potential to impact negatively on their health, economic livelihood, and social life.
The Associate Executive Director of WACAM stressed that “We need strong mining laws to support communities’ right to hold mining companies to the payment of huge fines as clean-up costs in situations of cyanide pollution in addition to compensations to affected communities for the pollution of their rivers.”
Commenting on the menace of “Galamsey”, she said, Ghana needed to understand that it is becoming difficult to manage the problems of the mining sector because of the weak laws, weak regulation, the power of the mining lobby, perceived corruption, and the network of powerful people behind the mining operations (both large scale and galamsey operations).
Source: Adovor Nutifafa