Land owners and farmers in the catchment area of Newmont Akyem Mines, have threatened to stage a demonstration against the mining firm over their disgust over their irresponsiveness to their demands and environmental effects of their operations on their lives.
A group of land owners known as Newmont Akyem Affected Farmers Association (NAAFA), is calling on Newmont to, with immediate effect, take action on its demands or witness a massive demonstration soon..
“We the land owners and Farmers have realized that Newmont Company is not showing any iota of respect to us; if not, they would have called us to a meeting to listen to our heart felt concerns.
We, therefore, warn the company that, if they do not act fast on the issues raised in our previous letter dated July 5, 2021, they should NOT be surprised seeing us embark on a demonstration against them very soon over their unfair treatment to us,” a statement signed by Mr. Ntiamoah Denkyira, Chairman of NAAFA, and other executives, threatened.
The land owners and farmers, who have abdicated their lands and farms for Newmont’s project, are also complaining that, Newmont Mining Company Ltd continues to blast rocks, leaving cracks on their buildings, whilst their food crops and other plants and vegetables they get from the bush are no more forthcoming.
Recounting the circumstances leading to this threat, the Association mentioned that, as part of compensation package for farmers affected by Newmont’s project in the area, the company “attempted in the year 2011 to cultivate farms for FARMERS who were affected by Newmont Mining activities; this farming project was named AILAP by Newmont.”
However, the project failed totally due to challenges the farmers encountered, which Newmont was aware of.
They cited one of the reasons for the failure as difficulty in acquiring farm lands at Newmont catchment area, leading to farmers having to travel far to acquire land for the AILAP and since Newmont did not provide financial support to the farmers, weeding and transportation fare compelled many farmers to abandon their farms.
According the affected farmers, from 2017 till date, NAAFA and Newmont have engaged in series of negotiations concerning their well-being.
“That was why Newmont agreed to cultivate the farms again for farmers who are interested in the AILAP. But this time around, Newmont agreed to help farmers with farm inputs and funds to sustain the farms until 3 years before handing over to the farmers finally,” they claimed.
They further claimed that, “Newmont agreed to offer financial assistance to farmers who cannot participate in the AILAP activities to establish Businesses of their choice. This AILAP and Business projects too has been termed “SOCIAL INTERVENTION” by Newmont.”
The affected farmers say, despite their warnings to Newmont that farming is seasonal, therefore, seedlings have to be planted in due time, their calls fell on Newmont’s deaf ears. “The company is making it very difficult for farmers to plant the seedling and the maize at the right time. It was only in June that the maize and the fertilizers were supplied to the farmers,” they lamented.
Though they admit that some farmers have received their farm inputs, they insist money was not provided to transport them to their various farms therefore the seedlings are kept in the houses of the farmers.
Worried about the imminent failure of the project, they are wondering if Newmont is not deliberately sabotaging them in order to refer to them as lazy farmers in the near future, forgetting that their actions contributed to the failure of the farms.
They want to know why Newmont is not being transparent to them on the total budget for the project.
“Why is Newmont hiding the BUDGET for the AILAP and BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT from NAAFA? It was agreed between Newmont and NAAFA that, the District Agriculture Director should prepare budget for the farming project,” the statement queried.
This option was to help get the best technical advice on the project, according to NAAFA, and they were expecting Newmont to commit the budget to the Agric Director to disburse,
The farmers, from Adausena, Hwehwea, Yayaso, Ntronang, New Abirem, Mamaso, and Afosu in the Eastern Region, are demanding that those among them who submitted their names to Newmont to go into business be attended to immediately.
They claim their buildings are suffering serious cracks as a result of Newmont’s operations such as blasting of rocks and their inability to harvest snails, spinach (kotonmire) and other crops that have been severely affected but dust and other particles from the blasting.
“Our environment is not safe for us and our children and we just can’t tell what our fate would be in the future,” Mr. Ntiamoah Denkyira lamented.
Another issue they are raising is that Newmont is planning to limit their scholarship scheme to only four years. “If this is true, Newmont must understand that it will not work,” they warned.
“We want you to understand that, we are not just interested in writing letters to criticize the Company but we feel it is our responsibility to make you know the reality on the ground.” NAAFA warned.
Farmers and land owners within Newmont Akyem project catchment area have been at loggerheads with the Company over terms and conditions for the mining operations.
The latest is as a result of misunderstandings on the compensation terms reached by the two parties.
If no immediate solution is found to the current impasse, a demonstration looms.