Thursday, September 26, 2013

Big mining companies fail ‘Akoben’ rating

BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE

TREND analysis conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the performance of the mining sector in 2012 has shown that some mining companies once again failed in meeting environmental standards and legal requirements.

Major companies that received the red grading (meaning their overall performance was poor) are AngloGold Ashanti Limited’s Obuasi mine, Ghana Bauxite Company Limited – Awaso, Gold Fields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine) and Golden Star (Bogoso/Prestea) Limited.

The rest are Owere Mines Limited – Konongo, Perseus Mining Limited – Ayanfuri and Prestea Sankofa Gold Limited – Prestea.

Launching the 2012 and Fourth Public Disclosure for the Environmental Performance Rating dubbed “Akoben” in Accra today (Friday), the Chief Executive Officer of the EPA, Mr Daniel S. Amlalo, said although generally there had been an improvement in how mining operations were conducted in the country, the ratings for 2012 showed the performance of some mining companies was very poor.

For instance, he said, AngloGold Ashanti Limited, Obuasi, had a red under ‘toxic releases’ and orange under ‘non-toxic releases’ ‘monitoring and reporting’, as well as environmental best practices which accounted for their overall poor performance.

“There can be improvement in waste management, but once legal issues have failed it is automatic red,” he said.

Presenting the results for the EPA’s 2012 assessment involving 16 mining companies, Mr Amlalo listed Chirano Gold Mines Limited and the Ghana Manganese Company Limited as having attained green; Golden Star Wassa Limited and Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, blue; Abosso Goldfields (Damang) Limited, Adamus Resources Limited, AngloGold Ashanti (Iduapriem) Limited, Newmont Golden Ridge Resources – New Abirem and Noble Gold Bibiani Limited – orange.

The seven other companies – AngloGold Ashanti Limited (Obuasi Mine), Ghana Bauxite Company Limited – Awaso, Gold Fields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine), Golden Star (Bogoso/Prestea) Limited, all had the red grading.

Sanctions
Disclosing that companies which have consistently attained red will receive sanctions, Mr Amlalo said the EPA was still negotiating the extent of the sanctions with the Ghana Chamber of Mines.

He divulged further, that from next year assistance would be offered to the mining companies that had consistently been graded red.

The help would involve taking environmental officers of the companies through certification process and, discussion of new techniques, methodology and compliance systems with the companies.

Yearly Assessment
However, analysis done in 2009 when the EPA launched its first assessment indicated that out of the 11 mining companies involved, only one company (Chirano Gold Mines Limited) was graded orange (satisfactory), while the other 10 were graded red (poor).

In 2010 six companies received the red grading, whereas in 2011 eight were graded red.

That notwithstanding, two companies (Abosso Goldfields Limited – Damang Mine and Newmont Ghana Gold Limited – Kenyasi) attained the blue (good) grade, three (Golden Star [Wassa] Limited, Chirano Gold Mines Limited and Ghana Manganese Company Limited – Nsuta) had orange and six were graded red that same year.

The year 2011 saw the first green (very good) rating in the Akoben, which was obtained by the Ghana Manganese Company Limited – Nsuta, with five companies attaining orange rating and eight others obtaining red.

For 2012 though, out of the 16 mining companies assessed by the EPA, two attained blue (good), two others received the green grading, five had orange and the remaining seven got red.

Mr Amlalo explained that the companies had to perform very well in all the seven pointers to attain a blue, a green or a gold final rating, which is yet to be experienced in the Akoben.

Answering a question from a participant, Mr Amlalo said the EPA’s database on small-scale miners would enable the agency to also monitor their activities from next year.

Ministry introduces award
In a speech read on her behalf, Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr (Mrs) Bernice Heloo, said the ministry would from next year institute an environmental trophy, which would be presented to the deserving mining company during the commemoration of World Environment Day, every year.

She said the assessment done by the EPA would also from next year be expanded to include issues on environment, water supply, sanitation, forestry and climate management, among others. 

The Public Affairs and Environment Director of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Ahmed Dasana Nantogmah, asked the EPA to review its assessment methodology, adding that in his view, mining companies were now doing better and that they would be guided by the approval of permits to minimise impact.


FACTS
           The Disclosure for the Environmental Performance Rating (Akoben) was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2009.
           The “Akoben” is in its fourth year.
           No mining company operating in Ghana has as yet attained gold in the “Akoben” rating.
           The first green (very good) rating in the “Akoben” was attained by the Ghana Manganese Company Limited – Nsuta, in 2011.
           Chirano Gold Mines Limited – Chirano and the Ghana Manganese Company Limited attained green (very good) while Golden Star Wassa Limited and Newmont Ghana Gold Limited received the blue (good) overall rating in the 2012 “Akoben” report.

Writer’s email: Edmund.Asante@graphic.com.gh

This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on September 23, 2013 

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