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MPs express safety concern about encroachment of Gold Fields' old underground shaft in Tarkwa

Wednesday, 4 October 2023

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science and Technology has expressed safety concerns regarding the encroachment of an old underground shaft on the concession of Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL) in Tarkwa.

Illegal miners have made several attempts to take over the abandoned Mantraim shaft in the Brahabobome community, which has not been operated in 30 years, according to GFGL.

The Members of Parliaments (MP) were informed when they visited the Tarkwa mine and the Mantraim shaft recently as part of their factfinding mission to mining companies in the Western and Ashanti regions.

The MPs assured they would report their findings to parliament after inspecting the area and noting the dilapidated and unsafe state of the Mantraim shaft.

“I asked the clerk to record everything, so that we can table it in parliament for the speaker to know what is happening here. He is the right person to give directive on what should be done,” said Hon. George Kwame Aboagye, MP for Asene Manso Akroso constituency in the Eastern Region and the Chairman of the delegation.

The Engineering Manager of GFGL, Elliot Twum, who led the MPs and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the tour, stressed that the company was worried about the safety of the community folks involved. He called on government to assist in re-sealing the Maintraim shaft as it is a grave danger because its structural integrity cannot be guaranteed.

In response, Hon. Aboagye advised the company to officially submit a petition to parliament, emphasising the safety concerns regarding mining in the shaft. He also encouraged the management of GFGL to intensify its engagement with host communities.

“You should do more engagement or collaboration with the communities, especially with the chiefs, for them to find an amicable solution to such a menace,” he noted.

In 2019, the mining company, ceded a section of Aboso Deep, which was part of its concession, to the government to be used as a community mining site.

Factfinding Mission

The Tarkwa mine was one of the mining companies the MPs were scheduled to visit during their factfinding tour. The MPs also visited the Asanko mine in the Ashanti Region and the site of the recent explosion at Shama in the Western Region.

MP for Kumbungu constituency in the Northern Region, Hon. Hamza Adam, explained that the tour of mining companies was to undertake their oversight responsibilities.
“Occasionally, we step out of parliament and visit institutions and agencies that work with these institutions to see the extent to which they are complying with the rules and laws of the country.”

He added that, “As the environment committee, it is our responsibility to make sure that the mining companies working with the EPA comply with the laws of the country.”

Mining Responsibly

At the Tarkwa mine, the management team, led by Mr Twum, briefed the MPs on the company’s operations, responsible mining activities, environment, social and governance (ESG) commitments, as well as contributions to national and host community development.

“At Gold Fields, we aim to mine responsibly and create value for the benefit of all our stakeholders, including government, which owns a 10% free carry interest in our operations in Ghana,” said Mr Twum.

“Our ESG priorities include reducing the impact of our mining operations on the environment through concurrent rehabilitation of land we no longer mine, protection of biodiversity and water bodies surrounding our operations, and lowering our carbon footprint,” he added.

Highlighting the company’s socio-economic investments, the Community Relations Manager, Florence Ansere-Bioh, indicated that the mine was now focused on legacy projects, which are funded by the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation.

“In line with our purpose to create enduring value beyond mining, we have shifted our focus to projects that have long-term measurable impacts on our host communities,” she explained.

We are close to completing the Tarkwa and Abosso international standard stadium, which will promote sports in our host communities. Our next target is to upgrade the Apinto Government Hospital in Tarkwa.”

Commending the company for delivering on its tax obligation and other regulatory requirements, Hon. Adam said, “I can see that Gold Fields is up to date in terms of environmental compliance.

“You are also doing a lot on corporate social responsibility, but I would like you to focus more on livelihood support for the communities, especially farmers.”

He also urged Gold Fields not to relent in the implementation of eco-friendly initiatives to mitigate the impact of its mining operations and climate change on communities.

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