The Somé Traditional Council has raised objection to the Minerals Commission’s gazette notification to Elite Minerals Ghana Limited and Planet One Natural Resources Ghana Limited, two mining companies prospecting salt mining in Adafienu in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta region.
In a letter of objection dated October 11, 2023 to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission and copied to the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ketu South, Paramount Chief and President of the Somé Traditional Council, Torgbiga Adamah III, said, the Gazette Notification in favour of Elite Minerals (GH) Ltd for Restricted Mining Lease and Planet One Natural Resources (GH) Ltd, for Prospecting License was raising critical concerns among Land Owners, the affected communities and the Somè Traditional Council.
According to the letter, despite the fact that Article 257 (1) (2) and 258 (1), (a), (b), (d), (e) of 1992 Constitution of the Republic conferred powers on the State, the Commission’s action has not only violated the underpinning principles of equity at law but also contravened the procedural law.
“Be however informed, that the state cannot acquire the allodial title
through conquest as that used to be one of the modes used by some of the powerful stools and Skins to forcibly acquire new territory.
It is therefore a fact on record, that acquisition of allodial title through conquest has become a thing of the past as wars have been criminalized.
The Paramountcy need not inform the Commission, that its decision to gazette the
land in favour of the above companies without prior consultation with Land Owners amounts to misappropriation of the Commission’s powers,” the letter stated.
It added: “The act of the Commission has infringed upon the Land Act, 2020 (Act, 1036) section 44 and article 268 of the 1992 Constitution, since the contract has affected the bargaining power of the Land Owners.
This is to say, that the Landlords in this circumstance, were not consulted before
the Commission started dealing with the above companies.
Accordingly, the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) section 340 – 349 established the
procedure for interest by the government, whereas article 20 (1) of the 1992 Constitution fortified the right to consult stakeholders and pay adequate compensation
to affected persons in accordance with law.”
The letter stated further: “The law further provides, that any acquisition made contrary to article 20 (1) of the1992 constitution is void. This is to say, that the state shall not acquire land from individuals, stools, clans, families or corporations without having a stakeholder’s consultation and engagement with persons with interest to the land or to the affected persons.
Respectfully, the Paramountcy is mindful of the fact that, section 4, of Act 703 has power to reserve land for mining purposes. This power can only be variously exercised by observing article 35 section (7) and (8) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana respectively.”
The letter said It was worth noting that Seven Seas Salt Ltd in an attempt to expand its operations in the year 2020 and in accordance with the Minerals Land
acquisition procedures,approached the Land Owners for Right of Entry to enable the company undertake survey works before submitting its application to the Minerals Commission.
“To the best of my knowledge this same concession the subject matter of this Gazette Notification was granted to Seven Seas Salt Ltd, with a Grant Letter dated 11th January 2021, upon which the Land Owners entered into Compensation Agreement with
the Salt Company and monies were determined and paid to all land owners by a Land
Consultant hired by the Ketu South Municipal Assembly, witnessed by the Minerals Commission.
For us to sustain our fishing activities as means of protecting our interest at the same time allowing the Central Government to raise the needed revenue and for the company to also undertake its operations peacefully, it was agreed that salt production could only be undertaken within the Adina Concession while both Adafienu and Agavedzi and Blekusu Concessions be used solely for circulation and evaporation of sea,water,” Torgbiga Adamah indicated.
The letter said the aforementioned agreement was to ensure alternative economic measures during the annual ban on fishing activities on the sea hence “our
strong objection to the current gazette notification.”
The letter observed that It was not fair for the Minerals Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to accuse Seven Seas Salt Company of working illegally on the Adafienu Concession whilst the Commission was fully aware of the company’s intentions of constructing dykes for the protection of its boundaries as contained in a letter dated 28th June, 2021 sighted by the Traditional Authority.
“Surprisingly, this letter which sought to advise the company as to how to handle a community agitation, was authored by the Chief Inspector of Mines.
One wonders as to how a company that received a grant, paid all statutory fees and informed all stakeholders, the Minerals Commission, the Municipal Assembly and the Local Authorities of its intention to protect the boundary of its concession with
documents to show could still be accused of operating illegally.
Notwithstanding all issues raised above, the Somè Traditional Council once again wants to reecho its Surface Right Compensation Agreement with Seven Seas Salt Company out of which monies were disbursed in January 2021 to all identified land owners,” the letter stated.
It added: “In view of the agreement executed between the parties, the Paramountcy and Land Owners are vehemently objecting to the decision of the Commission to grant this same land to any other company other than Seven Seas Salt Company, which has already paid all statutory fees for the land and could not have been accused unjustly because of an incident involving minors who were fishing under the supervision of their parents in the lagoon.
Again, we also realized, that the land being allocated to Elite Minerals (GH) Ltd and Planet One Natural Resources (GH) Ltd, is the same Adafienu Concession, but with different names.
In view of this, my communities will be affected when the concession is used for
salt crystallization ponds.
As stated earlier, Seven Seas Salt Company, agreed to circulate water in the said concessions for evaporation whilst communities also use it for fishing purposes.”
“The council therefore views the gazette notification as an economic sabotage and threat to the whole of Somè Traditional Council and therefore call on your good office to reconsider your decision.
We also advise the Honourable Minister to resolve this matter for the peace and development of Somè Traditional Area.
It is our specific position to demonstrate the right at law or in equity and maintain the nature, status quo and the character of the property.
We therefore object to the above gazette notice accordingly,’ the letter concluded.