By Julian Owusu-Abedi
New Crusading GUIDE’s weeks and months of continues investigative reports in the newspaper and on radio and TV stations about the alleged illegal mining operations of Shaanxi in the Upper East region, and the apparent complicity of Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) and the Minerals Commission (MinComm), seems to be making a headway.
Minerals Commission (MinComm) has finally resolved to address the issues and attempt to answer some of the pertinent questions about the Chinese mining company.
Recall that our investigative reporter earlier submitted all relevant documents from which he did all the publications about Shaanxi’s illegal operations to the MLNR and the MinComm.
It was based on the documents lodged with the supervisory bodies that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ofMinerals Commission, Addae Antwi,asked this reporter to put his request into writing for official response.
For the purpose of transparency, New Crusading GUIDE produces below the issues and questions, which are copied to three others; including the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana who had earlier made a passionate appeal on TV for citizens to report Chinese in the country who are engaged in all manner of illegal mining activities:
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON SHAANXI MINING GHANA LIMITED
- Per the small scale mining license agreement between Government of Ghana on one hand and Pubortaaba & Yenyeya Mining Group on the other hand, are you aware that the license procured by these two small scale mining group had been mortgaged or ‘sold’ to Shaanxi in a separate agreement with the latter? If yes what are you doing about it because in the Government of Ghana agreement with Pubortaaba and Yenyeya, section 1.4 states that “the rights conferred by this agreement shall not be assigned, mortgaged or otherwise transferred or dealt with in anyway without the prior written consent of government”.
- In the said agreement between Shaanxi and Pubortaab & Yenyeya on the side, Shaanxi owns 93% shares as against 7% for Pubortaab & Yenyeya, which clearly throws Pubortaab & Yenyeya out of ownership in an area of business which is highly restricted for indigenes or locals by law. Again, in the agreement between Shaanxi and Pubortaab & Yenyeya, it clearly states that “with coming into force of the agreement, apart from Shaanxi, Pubortaab & Yenyeya must not engage itself in any mining activity nor allow any persons or organization to do same on the concession agreed upon” which clearly vitiates the license agreement between the government and Pubortaab & Yenyeya because someone else has taken over the license and concession. The company code of Ghana clearly states that to be a Ghanaian company one should own at least 51% shares. What does the Commission intend to do about this?
- In a separate interview with Mr. Ben Nii Ayi Aryee, the former CEO of Minerals Commission (MinComm) and currently the technical advisor to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, he intimated that the scale of operations in terms of investment and infrastructure by Shaanxi could never be classified as small scale mining but they can’t also be equated to large scale mining because they don’t meet the standards “but unfortunately there is no regime for medium scale mining in Ghana” he said. If that is the case on what license or legal framework is Shaanxi operating?
- It has often been said by Ministry and Minerals Commission as well as officers of Shaanxi that they are operating under mine support services. If this is so could you please furnish me copies of such an agreement for each year that Shaanxi has operated? The law says that these licenses are discretionary and renewable annually. Our information is that Shaanxi has no such agreement in place, nor has it had one for many years. Please comment and provide copies of the agreements and /or the renewals.
- If they are operating under mine support to Pubortaaba and Yenyeya, then why are their mining shafts outside of those concessions with many tunnels trespassing into neighboring concessions? The commission has been aware of this since 2012 so why has no action been taken to stop this illegal activity?
- In 2017 to 2018, when the whole Ghana was under a blanket ban on all forms of small scale mining activities, why was Shaanxi the only company who mined throughout the ban?
- By law, as captured in the government of Ghana agreement with Pubortaab & Yenyeya in section 2.4 “the license shall furnish to the Minister of lands and Natural Resources and the Head of Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission not later than the 15th day of every month, a report showing quantities of gold won and sold in the preceding month”. However, Shaanxi who is now in charge of the concession has failed to file their returns with the Commission since they signed the agreement with Pubortaab & Yenyeya in 2009. They only began to honor this clause from 2014 to 2017 and are yet to file for 2018 as of today 7th October 2019.
- So far, Shaanxi’s operations has resulted in 31 deaths according official report by the Crime Officer in Talensi Chief superintendent Sampson Agbeko. Articles in the press show an even higher total being 61 deaths. In the most recent accident where 17 people died in January this year, the Commission’s investigations found Shaanxi culpable on five different counts of bad practices, negligence and others and fined them $50,000, $10,000 for each count to be paid to the Commission alone. Why did the Commission not find it expedient to make recommendations for compensation for the deceased since Shaanxi’s negligence and bad practices led to their death? Because in the government of Ghana license agreement it states clearly under LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE OR INJURY that “the license shall be liable for any actionable damage, loss or injury caused to any person property or interest as a result of the exercise by the license..”
- On August 22, 2017 after seven deaths at Shaanxi the then sector minister Mr. JP Amewu re opened the mine on condition that Shaanxi strictly comply with the Mining laws of Ghana and that the Inspectorate Division shall continue to monitor the Operations of Shaanxi. What steps has the Inspectorate Division of Commission taken to ensure compliance with all safety regulations/ please furnish details of all inspections undertaken since that time.
- Why is it that the government of Ghana has no agreement with Shaanxi but all official documents from the sector Ministry and the Minerals Commission are always addressed to Shaanxi and not Pubortaab & Yenyeya in respect of that concession?
This is in compliance to your request for me to put my request in writing when we last spoke on phone. Counting on your usual corporation, Chief.
(The New Crusading GUIDE)
CC: Minister for Lands and Natural Resources
Cc: Hon. JP Amewu(former sector Minister)
CC: The Ambassador(Chinese Embassy)