Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Henry Kokofu, has underscored the importance of institutional collaboration between mining industry players and the environmental regulator.
Mr. Kokofu, who assumed office in August 2020, has being engaging various stakeholders to acquaint himself with his new role and to gain a deeper understanding of critical sectors regulated by the EPA.
At a recent meeting with leadership of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr. Kokofu stated that interactions between the agency and mining industry should be characterised by a high sense of responsibility to improve environmental sustainability and productivity of the mining companies: “We will continue to collaborate with the Chamber to further enhance the benefits of mining to our environment, mining communities and the economy”.
He indicated that the agency is in the process of reviewing the EPA Act, 1999 (Act 490), and related Legislative Instruments to effectively enforce environmental management across sectors. According to him, whilst the mining industry is an important contributor to the economic transformation of the country, there is the need to regularly engage players in the sector to ensure their operations do not have deleterious effects on the environment and communities.
Mr. Kokofu urged member-companies of the Chamber to support the agency’s renewed commitment to address concerns affecting the former’s operations – including delays in permits for mine operations, as well as the need to review the Environmental Protection Act and its related legislations and guidelines to be in line with global developments. “For me, it is not work as usual. I am committed to leaving a lasting mark by implementing the mandate given to me by the appointing authority, with your support,” he intimated.
On his part, the President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Eric Asubonteng, commended the Executive Director of the EPA and his team for making time to engage the Chamber so early in his new role. “This sends a signal that you are ready to get on with the work. We want to assure you of our commitment as a Chamber to work with you in an open and transparent manner for mutually beneficial outcomes.
“Most of our challenges are very well-known to the agency, and we are grateful that we have agreed on some actionable points to permanently address them. On the part of our member-companies, we are also committed to assist in addressing relevant issues that affect smooth operation of the agency as we seek overall improvements in our working relationships,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Sulemanu Koney, indicated the Chamber’s readiness to support the EPA with reintroduction of the AKOBEN Environmental Performance and Rating Disclosure system – which seeks to improve and sustain good environmental management on the concessions of large-scale mining companies.
“It is our belief that the AKOBEN will engender healthy competition between companies, and raise the reputation of Chamber members on the global scene as businesses committed to best practice in environmental management. Extending this to our host communities will further engrain environmental and sanitation-consciousness among our people, especially in the amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stated.
The meeting was attended by senior executives from producing member-companies of the Chamber and the EPA.