Communities within the catchment of Xtra-Gold Mining Limited in the Atiwa West district are reeling under the impact of Xtra-Gold Limited’s mining operations.
Residents say a number of people have died after falling into uncovered mining pits left behind by some sub-contractors. Three of such deaths have been recorded in the past year at Akyem Apampatia.
Several water bodies at Akyem Akropong, Akyem Pameng, Akyem Awenare and Akyem Apampatia, have also been destroyed.
Xtra-Gold Mining have been present in the Atiwa West district since 2006. It owns 5 mining leases, including the Banso and Pameng Concessions.
The company employs the services of sub-contractors to mine in concessions at Pameng, Apampatia, among others on contracts.
Residents accuse these sub-contractors of degrading their lands and destroying water bodies.
The Operation Halt military task force has struck twice in one week on one of the mining sites at Pameng.
The task force destroyed seven excavators and two bulldozers only for it to return on Saturday to set a power plant and offices of the mining firm ablaze.
Residents say Akwaduru, Abrasu, Tawiah, Aprabon, Akobonsu and Asuo Yaa and Menempong streams have all been destroyed in Akyem Apampatia, Awenare and Akyem Akropong. Others are Pameng and Banso.
They say activities of the mining firm have impacted negatively on their lives as their immediate environment and water bodies are destroyed. Some of them have fallen into deep mining pits left uncovered by these miners.
In Pameng, at least 3 of such deaths have been recorded since 2007.
“Some mining pits are still left uncovered in this community. But the miners are respecting the ban on mining in forest reserves.
“No excavator has been left to mine in the Atiwa forest in Pameng. I will commend them for that. With regards to the destruction of streams, they usually divert the course of the streams to allow farmers to use them,” says Eugene Antwi-Atua, former assemblyman for Pameng-Beposo Electoral area.
“I admit there are excesses but even then, we don’t have Chanfan and the rest are destroying big streams like Birim in Pameng,” he added.
Similar cases have been recorded at Apampatia with 25-year old Nicholas Borkom also known as Shatta Wale being the last victim. He was buried on May 28, 2021.
“Xtra-Gold has left several pits uncovered here. Only Gordon reclaimed the mined land. Gordon has done so well.
“The company has even planted trees on the reclaimed land though he is yet to cover the pits on the Banso boundaries. As for Panther, he left all the pits uncovered. Everything rests with Xtra-Gold since they charged the sub-contractors 22 per cent.
“Xtra Gold has a share in the operations of all the 6 contractors who work here. They were supposed to have covered the pits before the chief travelled abroad,” former Chairman of the Unit Committee, Elder Edward Boateng told JoyNews.
His niece who had gone to harvest ‘Kontomire’ (cocoyam leaves) is one of the victims.
“My own niece fell into one of the pits and died just behind us. Panther and Xtra-Gold paid GH25000 in compensation to the mother. That’s all. They didn’t cover the pit. So far, 3 people have died in the pit; my niece, one gentleman and a Krobo man,” he said.
The unresolved deaths and destruction to the environment has compelled the youth of Apampatia to come together to fight for the community.
About 100 members of the Concerned Youth of Apampatia say they will resist any attempt by Xtra-gold to mine in the area again.
Albert Ofosu who speaks for the group says the group is unhappy with the wanton destruction of the Atewa Forest and cocoa farms.
“We are prepared to stop any galamsey operations. We will sacrifice because we see our river bodies and our cocoa farms are all in danger.”
According to him, the youth will do everything possible to prevent further degradation of the Atewa Forest Range.
“We are more than 100 and we are prepared to fight this fight because it is our last forest in this country. That is the Atewa Forest”.
Meanwhile, officials of Xtra-Gold Mining have declined comments.
Director, Victor Nkansa in a text message said the company will not do interviews but rather, lawyers would state position in addition to their initial press release.