Chiefs in the Upper West region have threatened to mobilize forces against an Australian mining company operating in the area; Azumah resources if the company continues to operate without their permission.
The chiefs gave the threat at a stakeholders meeting organized by the Regional House of Chiefs in Wa.
The stakeholders meeting was organized to discuss the operations of Azumah Resources which has been working in the Upper West region for over two decades.
It was also to discuss and find a lasting solution to the incidence of illegal mining which is gaining notoriety in the region.
Institutions such as the Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and Azumah Resources took turns to brief the House.
It came to light that over 39 per cent of the total landmark of the Upper West region has been licensed to mining companies to prospect for gold.
Azumah Resources has the highest land cover of 2400km2 with 4 prospecting licenses and a mining lease.
Speaking after the presentations, the Paramount Chief of the Bulenga traditional area, Naa Seidu Abdullah Nawologmo accused Azumah Resources of gross disregard for traditional authority.
“They have been operating in my traditional area. Anytime i asked them to show me a proof of their license, they tell me they are still prospecting. When I asked to meet them, they sent one small boy to my palace. At least not me or any of the chiefs in my traditional area is aware of their operations. So they must go back and do proper community entry. We can’t be taken for granted like that.”
Another chief, Ducie Naa Jongara, said ” how will you feel if the land that has been bequeathed to you by your great grandparents is taken away for mining without you being consulted? It is simply not fair and we can’t allow it.”
The chief almost exchanged blows with a worker of Azumah resources who tried to interject.
While accusing the company of human rights abuses, Naa Jongara maintained that they will resist the company if state institutions responsible for mining fail to call them to order.
The President of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton IV called on government to expedite action on their concerns to avoid future conflicts.
Referencing Article 270(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, Kuoro Kanton said “the institution of chieftaincy in Ghana is not only revered as an indigenous institution of governance but also contributes to the socio-economic and political development of the country.
It is therefore not out of place for Azumah resources to collaborate with traditional authorities in the Upper West Region in their operations.
He commended government for the fight against illegal mining and pledged their support.
The Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, Issahaku Amidu Chinia blamed the impasse between the chiefs and the mining company on the Minerals Commission.
He said the Commission has failed on its mandate to sensitize communities on the operations of mining companies.
He called on the Commission to up their game to avert future clashes.
Meanwhile, the Country Director of Azumah resources, Mr. Paul Amoako Atta assured the chiefs of improved collaboration between the company and all stakeholders in mining.
“We have over the years worked hard to strengthen our relationship with the various stakeholders especially our chiefs. Going forward we have taken the concerns and will improve upon them.”