News

    Canadian Miner Meets Adversity in Ghana

    Community activists say locals sent petitions to the capital and blocked the mining by the Canadian firm Golden Star Resources

    Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

    With gold prices at record highs, many companies are trying to get in on the action and mine in Africa's second-largest gold producer, Ghana.  But one Canadian company already operating in Ghana is running into problems with the local community and the government.  

    People in the town of Prestea took to the streets earlier this year to protest mining by the Canadian firm Golden Star Resources. Community activist Eric Sherwood says locals sent petitions to the capital and blocked the company's cars on the road. 

    "Even the market women, everyone was on the streets," said Sherwood.  "So that day they could not work, they could not even move."

    Many people in Prestea are angry because they say Golden Star is a bad neighbor.  One of its mines is right next door to the town, a few-hundred meters from shops and buildings.  Company spokesperson Elaine Kwami.

    "With gold, you go where the gold is," she said.  "It is not as if you just mine anywhere, it is where the gold is you go for the license to operate."

    Right now, machines move around dirt on the edge of the Prestea surface mine, 300 kilometers from the capital, Accra.  Golden Star finished mining here two years ago and has to fill the pit back up.

    High school student Jina Abban says the noise from the explosives at the mine, the blasting, used to make studying impossible.

    "Any time we hear the bell ringing it is time for blasting, so we run away from the class," said Abban.  "We will not learn until they have finished doing their blasting."

    So when the people of Prestea heard the company wanted to build another pit mine, they spoke out.  Especially since the area proposed for mining is next door to the area's best school.

    They are also worried about the new project's effect on the town's underground mine. It used to be the mainstay of the community, but went bankrupt in 2002.  A few years later, Canadian miner, Golden Star took it over.  Elaine Kwami says it will reopen eventually.

    "You have water being pumped everyday, and then work is also going on.  But as to exactly say when we will start mining, that is a bit difficult to say at this stage," said Kwami.

    When the mine went bankrupt, thousands were out of work.  People like Aisha Issis' husband.  He use to mine gold underground, but Issis says he was laid off, and the family fell on hard times.

    Issis says they did not have any money, and her kids were kicked out of school because they could not pay the fees.  She blames Golden Star for ruining the jobs and the beauty of the town.

    "There is extremely high expectations.  When you are the single largest employer, everybody looks to you not just for employment, but for more social, should I say, support," said Golden Star's Elaine Kwami.

    Kwami says no one appreciates what the company has done for the community, like training people in agriculture.  Today, Golden Star employs about 800 people in Prestea.  At one point, the old underground mine employed around 3,000 people.

    According to a Golden Star report, the company has the government's permission to build a new mine pit.  The report says it just needs the go-ahead from environmental regulators, which it expected to get this year.  But spokesperson Elaine Kwami could not confirm that.

    "As for expansion, when the time comes it will be made public," added Kwami. "If there is a need to start mining in any other area, it involves regulators and so on."

    One of those regulators is Ransford Sekyi, who heads mining at Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency. 

    "We had some objections from the communities," said Ransford Sekyi, who heads mining at Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency, and one of the regulators 

    Because his team found issues at Golden Star's mines, they did not give the company a permit. Issues like taking too long to fill in that big pit at the edge of town.

    Sekyi says Golden Star has work to do before it can get a new environmental permit.
     
    "Holistically, we are looking at all the factors: the projects' designs, community issues, legal compliance," said Sekyi.  "So when all those things are done, and it is complete, then we think of permitting."

    The environmental regulator cannot say when that might be.  But Golden Star is turning a profit in Ghana.  In November, the company broke its own sales records for the quarter, making more than $100 million.  

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.