Traditional leaders in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region are up in arms against the new owners of the Bogoso Prestea mine, Future Global Resources (FGR) for failing to revamp the mine as promised in September 2021 when they took over the concession from Golden Star Resources.

The chiefs are particularly angry at the government and mining sector regulators for failing to intervene to address the situation despite several appeals to them.

At a joint news conference held at Himan on Tuesday, February 13 by the various traditional areas in the municipality, the chiefs asked the government to take urgent steps to save the mine whose current state is posing a security threat due to the negative impact on the local economy.

According to the chiefs, FGR submitted an oral plan for revamping the mine to them and other stakeholders after the acquisition of the mine in September 2021.

They claim that FGR commenced exploration work on the Bogoso Prestea concession after the acquisition but immediately stopped after getting the support of the local community stakeholders.

The chiefs say they had requested FGR to formally document the orally submitted plan for the mine and present it to stakeholders to enable them to provide the needed support for FGR to achieve the plan, but the management of the mine ignored their call.

“After observing the 2 years of the operations of FGR, Nananom [Chiefs] realised that FGR does not have the financial capacity and technology to enhance the development of the mine. The company could not submit either short-term or long-term plans for their operation whenever stakeholders requested” Nana Nteboa Pra IV, Divisional Chief of Himan Prestea said at the news conference.

The chiefs slammed the government for failing to take action on their 5-paged petition forwarded to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in August 2023, following which a meeting was held with a Deputy Sector minister.

“Unfortunately, the minister has not provided any feedback to Nananom [Chiefs] and all stakeholders who were copied in the petition have decided to remain silent. It is unfortunate to state that what Nananom [Chiefs] predicted and cautioned the minister and all mining-related regulatory agencies is exactly what is happening. The collapse of the Bogoso Prestea operation is unfolding and all government agencies, CBOs, and NGOs seem to be unconcerned despite the awareness created on the situation by both the workers and the community leaders ”the chiefs lamented.

The chiefs say they have mediated several misunderstandings between the workers, local service providers and the company, but the company fails to comply with the agreement in any of the mediations.

“The continuous delay in addressing the situation of the FGR Bogoso Prestea mine is threatening the security and peace of our communities and land. The issue must be urgently addressed. At least stakeholders should be engaged” the chiefs cautioned.

According to them, the current situation is resulting in persistent theft and deterioration of equipment and machinery, as the continuous decline in operation threatens the security of the communities.

They expressed concern about increased unemployment and the negative impact on local businesses.

Debt to local contractors is impacting their businesses, their workers and their dependents. Loans contracted by the contractors keep accumulating interest which is running most of the local contractors bankrupt. The company owes both the development foundation and oil palm plantation which is from the one dollar from every ounce of gold produced and sold."

The chiefs say due to a lack of finances or investment, communities in the catchment area of the business have not benefited from any CSR initiatives since the acquisition of the mine three years ago.

According to them, the situation has worsened to the point that the company is unable to fulfill statutory responsibilities to workers. They disclosed that workers' SSNIT payments are in arrears for 30 months, tier 2 is also in arrears, whereas salaries are either delayed or aren’t paid on time.

The chiefs further expressed disappointment in the silence of government and non-government institutions charged with mining sector responsibilities.

“We expected the 120-day ultimatum issued by the Minerals Commission to have triggered the necessary actions to put back the mine on the path of recovery. Unfortunately, MINCOM continues to give excuses for the FGR situation. The question Nananom [Chiefs] are asking is, what was the objective of the 120-day ultimatum?

The chiefs called on the media not to only focus on the activities of small-scale miners, but also pay attention to how large-scale mining firms such as FGR are conducting themselves.

“Beyond the propagation and publication of the issues, the media should follow up on the issues at relevant offices and regulatory agencies. The media must ask questions, get the authorities to talk and not just publish the issues. The media should not only focus on small-scale or illegal mining activities but should also focus on large-scale mining and their compliance with national regulations and laws. Together, the media can help to fast-track a resolution of the matter.

The chiefs are demanding a response to their 5-paged petition submitted to the Minister of Mines and Natural Resources.

In their petition, they had proposed that the sector minister should as a matter of urgency call for a stakeholders’ meeting to provide an update on the ministry’s plan or decision on the FGR situation.

“The continuous silence is threatening the peace and security of the communities of the Bogoso Prestea Mine. It seems to Nananom [Chiefs] that all the mining-related stakeholders are not bothered and concerned about the situation (the legitimate concerns of the workers and the community stakeholders). Nananom [Chiefs] want to be recognized as a key stakeholder in the resolution of the FGR issues and wants to be involved in the final determination of any credible investor for the Bogoso Prestea mine.”

The chiefs promised to support any credible potential investor that would come on board.

“We are not against mining in our communities but want investment that will benefit and lead to the development of our communities. An investor that will inject the right financial capital and technology to expand the mine for a positive impact on the local economy and employment, CSR. Despite the challenges encountered by FGR, evidence of the support of Nananom [Chiefs] and other stakeholders to the operation of FGR is visible.”

The news conference was held by the Divisional Chiefs and elders of FGR Bogoso Prestea Mine comprising Himan-Prestea Divisional Stool, Mbease Nsuta Divisional Stool, Beppo Divisional Stool, Bogoso-Kokoase Divisional Stool, and Ehyireso Divisional Stool and Adamanso Divisional Stool.

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