Much effort has been made by Newmont Ghana to operationalise the Ahafo North Project as soon as practicable to strengthen its portfolio in the country.
This follows the acquisition of some requisite regulatory permits as well as steady progress in the land access process for the mine, which is estimated to produce about 3.3 million ounces of gold over the projected 13-year mine life.
The company received permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for both the Main and Tailings Storage Facility and Water Infrastructure (TSF/WI) in April and December 2021 respectively.
Newmont has also secured all the required permits and approvals to progress with the land acquisition process, and it is currently implementing its farm parcel land ownership survey. The approval has paved the way for the company to analyse, verify and assess crops to support enumeration and pay agreed compensation to affected farmers.
All other things being equal, the land acquisition process should be completed within this year for construction to start at the mine. The Newmont Ahafo North project is part of the main Ahafo lease that started operations in 2006. In July 2021, the company’s Board of Directors approved an initial investment fund of US$750 to US$850million for the project.
Newmont’s Ahafo North project is in the Tano North Municipality of the Ahafo Region. The five host communities are Yamfo, Susunso, Afrisipakrom, Adrobaa and Terchire.
These came to light during a media engagement held in Sunyani on the Ahafo North project. The meeting was, among others, aimed at briefing journalists on the project’s progress in order not to keep the media and public in the dark.
Mr. Agbeko Azumah, Director of Communications and External Relations, Newmont-Ghana, said the project will generate approximately 1,800 jobs at construction peak level and 550 direct jobs when the mine becomes operational – adding that sub-contractors will also employ many people to work at the mine.
He stated that the project will improve the local and national economy through employment creation, taxes, royalties and local procurement, as well as local content among others. It is expected to provide enhanced benefits by increasing contributions to the Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF), he added.
Mr. Azumah however indicated that high cost of speculative activities at the mining area poses a threat to viability of the mine, and urged the public – especially residents of the host communities – to refrain from the practice.
He also mentioned misinformation – particularly about its land access process, high public expectation, employment scams and threats of illegal mining as other challenges to the Ahafo North project.
He said: “It is not everybody who can secure employment at the mine; it is important for the public to manage their expectations to a realistic level. However, we are trying to create as many economic opportunities as possible so that other people can benefit from the mine’s presence.
“On illegal mining, the menace within our operational areas is becoming a worrying trend. If we should allow galamsey to fester at Ahafo North, it will definitely threaten the project’s viability.”
On his part, Mr. Marfo Oduro-Kwarteng – Social Responsibility Manager-Newmont Ahafo North, revealed that over 1,300 farms have so far been enumerated; indicating that crops involved include cocoa, oil palm, citrus and teak, as well as other food crops such as plantain, cassava and coco-yam.
He explained that a Crop rate Negotiations Committee made up of representatives from the communities, professional valuers, traditional authorities and local government completed negotiations for 2021 – thus giving way for payment of compensation to some farmers and land owners.