Environmental groups calling on the government to halt plans to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest have dared President Nana Akufo-Addo to prove his claim that the type of technology that would be used for mining bauxite in the forest would not harm the environment.
A spokesperson for the Coalition of Environmental groups, Darly Bosu in an interview on Eyewitness News said they will readily back down on their firm stance against mining in the forest if the president proves his claim.
Mr. Bosu insisted that bauxite mining was among the most destructive types of mining with worse environmental effects as compared to other minerals.
“We very much disagree [with President Akufo-Addo] based on the fact that what he said is not proven and there is no fact to substantiate that. As far as we know, there is no technology that is used for bauxite mining anywhere in the world that really goes to describe what the president has talked about. Bauxite mining anywhere in the world is one of the most destructive enterprises ever,” he told Selorm Adonoo on Eyewitness News.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last week gave assurances that the government’s plan to have bauxite mined in the country’s largest surviving natural rainforest, the Atewa forest, will not in any way destroy the environment.
He said that the technology to be adopted by the miners would reduce the impact of the mining activity on the quality of life of persons whose livelihoods depend on the forest’s resources.
But according to Daryl Bosu, there is no technology that will mine bauxite in a way that will not affect the environment and so the president has a duty to make public the technology he referred.
“If he really has that technology he is talking about, he should show all of us. We are ready to see it and we are ready to change our position if he can show us that, that is possible,” Mr. Bosu said.
He also accused the government of failing to consult widely and conducting a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that will indicate that Ghana stands to lose when it goes ahead with mining in the forest as well as what it stands to benefit for comprehensive analysis.
“They should start with the fundamental exercise of undertaking a strategic environmental assessment but that they are forfeiting to do. But they have already started going to the areas and already having their way.”
President Akufo-Addo, who is a UN Sustainable Development Goals champion and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, has come under serious criticism over the decision to mine bauxite in the forest as part of a $2 billion Chinese infrastructure deal.
Some environmental activists and concerned groups including A ROCHA Ghana which has been campaigning for the protection of the Atewa Forest have called into question the president’s commitment to protecting the country’s forest resources which have been found to be fast declining.
Other organizations such as the Christian Council of Ghana and the US Forest Service which the government contacted to for technical consultation have urged the government to be cautious about the process due to the likelihood of having the water sources of some five million Ghanaians affected.
The Christian Council, in particular, suggested that the forest could be turned into a National Park as an alternative to mining.
But the government has already taken action to mine in the forest.
Last week Thursday, heavy-duty equipment were seen at the Sagyimase entry port of the forest clearing a road into the forest.
Several medicinal trees were said to have been destroyed as a result.