Environmental and human rights repercussions of Canadian mining investment in Ghana, West Africa

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

When foreign investment is encouraged in the absence of adequate controls, the results can be very disturbing. This was one of the themes coming out of the "Mining, development, and social conflicts in Africa" conference held by the Third World Network (TWN) in Accra, Ghana on November 14-18, 1999. Participants got to see first hand the impacts of gold mining and exploration on poor farming communities in the Western Region of Ghana.

Several Canadian companies operating in the region, including Repadre and St. Jude Resources, are benefiting from favourable treatment by the government at the expense of local people and the environment. The Canadian government and international multilateral agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have encouraged policies favouring foreign direct investment in mining.

The results are pretty overwhelming. Mining laws have been re-written to favour foreign mining companies. Mining concessions have been allowed on forest reserves in the country's last remaining rain forest. The rivers are suffering chemical and wastewater contamination. Small scale miners are being squeezed out. And whole villages are relocated away from their ancestral lands, given trivial amounts of compensation amounts for damages, or even bulldozed if they resist.

MiningWatch Canada has joined TWN and other groups in Ghana and throughout the world in condemning this situation, and we will be working with the Canadian government and local NGOs to find solutions.