In addition, the only source of drinking water for the people, River Oti, has also been polluted with chemicals, making it difficult for the people to have access to safe drinking water.

That was disclosed in a press briefing in Tamale by Mr Francis Npong, the National Coordinator of Media Advocates for Sustainable Environment (MASE), a network of environmental reporters in the Northern Region, who are monitoring mining activities  in the area.

He said two joint venture companies were given exploration license by the Minerals Commission to test the mine and vast deposit of iron ore in the area which was discovered in the 1960s and was found to be the richest iron ore deposit in Africa.

He said “since the miners entered the area, hunting, which was a source of livelihood for the people, had been affected. As a result of the daily noise produced by the miners, most of  the animals such as  antelopes, grasscutters, monkeys and wild birds have all vanished from the area and the population of wild bees that produced honey has also reduced, thereby affecting honey harvesting drastically.” 

According to him, “hundreds of domestic animals belonging to community members living along the route of the mines have been knocked down and killed by the moving vehicles of the miners, with no compensation paid to the owners.” 

Mr Npong added that investigations conducted by the network revealed that the only stream serving as the source of drinking water for the communities had been contaminated with mining chemicals. 

“The miners disregard safety measures and wash mining chemicals into the stream, but  due to the lack of alternative water sources, the communities are forced to continue to drink from the polluted stream,” he lamented.

He stated further that the mining activities in the area had also led to the destruction of economic trees such as teak, shea and dawadawa, as well as food crops.

He, therefore, called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately conduct an environmental impact assessment at Sheini and take actions to ameliorate the plight of the people in the area.

He equally called on the Minerals Commission to  publish information about  the Sheini iron ore deal for accountability purposes, as the processes leading to the award of the licence to Cardero Canada and Emmaland Resources, the mining companies operating in the area,  have been shrouded in secrecy.  

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