Briefing paper: Released by Media Advocates for Sustainable Environment (MASE)
MINING IN SHEINI 24/01/2014
Bring Cardero Resources to Book: Sheini Communities Urge Government
Sheini is the latest community to join the league of mining communities in Ghana. The community is located at the eastern flank of the Tatale-Sangule District of the Northern Region of Ghana and also shares borders with the western part of Togo.
The community lies at the foot of a range of huge mountains, in lush vegetation that maintains its rich greenery, even in the dry harmattan season.
Sheini, and its cluster of villages, has a population of about 25,000 – mostly peasant farmers who do a little of hunting on the side. It is also rich in iron ore.
The government of Ghana, through Soviet Geologists, discovered large quantities of iron ore in the Sheini Hills in the early and late 1960s. Further prospecting and exploration between 2000 and 2010 by interested companies not only confirmed that the ore was in commercial quantities but also among the finest and largest ever discovered in Africa. The Sheini stones were found to be about 80.9 per cent rich in iron ore and could be mined continuously for 100 years.
Other tests found traces of diamond, manganese, bauxite, potassium, phosphorous and clinker among others.
Cardero Ghana Ltd and Emmaland Resources Ltd
In 2010, about twelve mining companies expressed interest and readiness to exploit the iron ore. A Canadian company, Cardero Resources Corporation (also known as Cardero Ghana Ltd) and Emmaland Resources Ltd won the concession. The government of Ghana through the Ministry of lands and Natural Resources granted three prospecting licenses to the companies. The two companies formed a joint partnership for the purpose of exploiting the Sheini iron ore.
Effective consultation with mining communities is an important aspect of the mineral licensing process. According to Ghana’s policy on mining, “procedures for effective participation of communities in the licensing process include notification to the communities by methods such as publication of the application at the District Assembly, among others as well as the conduct of public hearings in prescribed circumstances.”
From all indications, Cardero Ghana Ltd and Emmaland Resources Ltd. did not comply fully with the requirements of the mining policy and minerals and mining act. They dealt mainly with some self-centered individuals in the then Zabzugu-Tatale District Assembly. Indeed, the Assembly appears not to possess any meaningful documentation or record of Cardero’s entry into the Sheini community.
Free, Prior and Informed Consent
Free, prior and informed consent is an international convention which mining communities are supposed to uphold. The convention gives them the right to be informed, involved and consented to mining activities.
Ghana is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). Article 19 of the UNDRIP says: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC )before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
The FPIC process is the main means of ensuring that potentially affected communities have all necessary information at their disposal in order to negotiate on equal terms with project proponents. Balanced negotiation demands education of stakeholders (governments, proponents, affected communities) on their rights and responsibilities.
The chief and people of Sheini say: “The only opportunity we had to meet with the managers of the companies was when the District Chief Executive and some government officials came to introduce the miners to us.”
The chief of Sheini added rather grudgingly: “We thought the miners would come back for us to talk about the implications of the operations for our community and our rights and entitlements. But we never saw them till they started work.
Impact of mining on Sheini Communities
Sheini and other communities started to experience the negative impacts of mining a few months after Cardero started operating. These ranged from loss of biodiversity, pollution of water sources to diminishing community livelihoods and other social implications. Some of the communities are: Sangbaa, Sheini, Campuni, Adjeidom, Wajadom, Kandin, Kutiebu, Nakandom and Lakpale.
Loss of Biodiversity
Cardero’s operations have affected biodiversity in the Sheini communities. Shea trees, which are the only economic trees and main source of livelihood for women in the area, are felled to make room for more exploitation. Part of a teak plantation was removed to create access roads to mining sites. Wild bees that provided honey for the people have strayed beyond the reach of the communities. Animals that used to be game and source of income to the communities have also abandoned the area.
“They pull down every tree that stands their way whether it is shea or dawadaw tree,” said Akua Kababe, a female farmer. “The miners always tell us that they are working for the government so who are we to be fighting the government?”
Pollution of Water Bodies
The only stream serving as the source of drinking water for the communities have been polluted by Cardero. Chemicals from the processing of the orehave been washed into the stream. The communities fear that the spring that would have served as an alternative source of potable water may have also been contaminated as the chemicals may possibly have seeped into the ground above the spring.
“Cadero has not provided alternative source of drinking water for us.” Says Mr. Waja Nwasan , an elder of Sheini. “Our women have to walk long distances to fetch water for household chores. Where will our domestic animals drink from again?” He asked.
“We were warned by the miners not to drink the water from the stream because they have washed some chemicals into the water. But most of the communities’ have ignored the warning and continue to use the water from the polluted stream. This is because they do not have alternative source of water.”
Destruction of food crops
Roads were constructed to the mining sites through farmlands without prior notice to the affected farmers. In the process, Cardero destroyed food crops without offering compensation to the affected farmers.
Meanwhile Article 74 of the Mineral Act 2006 section (1) entitles the owner of any land or lawful occupier, to compensation who suffer the following conditions: “ (a) Deprivation of the use or a particular use of the natural surface of the land or part of the land; (b) Loss of or damage to immovable properties; (c) in the case of land under cultivation, loss of earnings or sustenance suffered by the owner or lawful occupier, having due regard to the nature of their interest in the land; (d) Loss of expected income, depending on the nature of crops on the land and their life expectancy.”
Ripples of mining activities
Hundreds of domestic animals- goats, sheep, cows and dogs- belonging to communities living along the route to the mines have been killed by vehicles belonging to Cardero Resources. The only foot bridge linking Sheini to other communities has been damaged by Cadero which has since refused to fix it.
“They promised they were going to construct the bridge. After diverting the stream, they left the foot bridge in total disrepair. All efforts to get them to re-construct the bridge failed”, said the Assembly Member of Sheini electoral area, Mr. Nkanba Joseph.
Position of Sheini Communities
It is evident that Cardero Resources did not meet fully the statutory requirements and the rights and entitlements of Sheini under Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP, as stated above) before it started operating. The Sheini communities hereby:
Recognize that Sheini communities have the right to FPIC under UNDRIP Article 32(2) and demand same. The Article states that: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous Peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain FREE, PRIOR and INFORMED CONSENT prior to approval of any project affecting their land or territories”.
1. Cardero must live up to its corporate social responsibilities. The company should take steps to ensure the development of the communities and compensate them for all losses the incurred as a result of the operations of Cardero Resources.
2. Demand that the Zabzugu District Assembly make available to Sheini communities, copies of any agreements/memorandum of understanding it may have entered into with Cardero Resources regarding mining in the area; that copies of the environmental impact assessment of the project be made available.
3. Shea and Dawadawa trees that fetched the people of Sheini some income were mowed down Cardero destroyed crops such as this to make way for access roads.
4. The only stream serving as source of drinking water for the communities has been polluted by Cardero.
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