Canadian Mining Companies Destroy Environment and Community Resources in Ghana

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

A report by Asad Ismi on the involvement of Canadian mining companies in the pillaging of Ghana's natural resources – as the Ghanaian government prepares to open forest reserves to mining. This document has raised the ire of some in the industry; see Mineweb's outraged editorial, which interestingly does not link to this article.

Ghana was once the leading light of decolonisation, self-determination, and development in West Africa. Now it struggles with debt and economic inequality, as well as dilapidated and inadequate health and education systems, public services, and infrastructure – hardly a model for development. Ghana has followed the prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and Canadian mining companies have been among the foreign investors who have poured millions of dollars into Ghana in recent years. But there has been no improvement in the lives of ordinary Ghanaians, and in fact many have suffered not just from general economic hardship but also directly from the loss of farmland and the environmental contamination brought about by these same mining activities – and now the Ghanaian government is set to allow mining in its remaining forest preserves. This document provides some background on Canadian involvement in the Ghanaian mining sector.

There are eleven main Canadian mining companies in Ghana: Birim Goldfields, Nevsun Resources, Moydow Mines International, St. Jude Resources, PMI Ventures, AMI Resources, AXMIN, Alcan, IAMGOLD, Golden Star Resources, and Akrokeri-Ashanti Gold Mines (see sections below). All these are gold mining companies except for Alcan, which is extracting bauxite. The first seven are junior companies exploring for gold, and the last three are gold producers. IAMGOLD has a share in the Tarkwa mine, which is the leading gold producer in Ghana, and Akrokeri-Ashanti's Bonte mine is the country's sixth largest gold producer.[1] Canadian firms have invested over $200 million in mining in Ghana since the late 1980s, largely in the gold and bauxite sectors,[2] and more than half the 200 active concessions in Ghana belong – at least in part – to Canadian companies.[3] Mining has led to massive human rights violations and enormous environmental degradation in areas of Ghana where Canadian companies operate. As seen below, some of these corporations actively promote such destructive practices.

Gold for Multinationals

Gold mining is Ghana's main source of revenue and foreign exchange. In 1998, gold exports totalled $793 million which was 46% of gross foreign exchange earnings.[4] Under a World Bank-IMF Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) beginning in 1986, there has been massive privatization of the mining sector, accompanied by generous incentives for companies which include the repatriation of up to 95% of their profits into foreign accounts and the ending of income tax and duties. Environmental regulation has been minimized. Such a favourable investment climate has attracted multinational corporations and boosted production. Seventy to eighty-five percent of the large-scale mining industry is now foreign owned (prior to1986, the government owned 55% of all mining operations). Ghana is now Africa's second largest producer of gold after South Africa, and gold constitutes more than 90% of the total value of minerals output. Gold production reached a record high in 1995 and has since gone up by a further 45%.[5]

Yet all this has not benefited the Ghanaian economy and people. As a recent study of SAPs states: liberalization, deregulation and privatization of the mining sector have enabled transnational corporations to remove resources and profits from poor countries while failing to generate sustainable economic growth that is of net benefit to national or local economies." Due to the tax breaks and incentives given to foreign companies, mining's net foreign exchange contribution to Ghana's economy has been minimal. The sector's contribution to government revenue has also been small – 14.4% in 1995. Mining's ability to generate employment is also limited given that all operations are surface-mining, which is capital-intensive. The sector employs about 20,000 people but privatization and the decline in commodity prices has led to cost-cutting which has meant massive layoffs; many mines substantially reduced their labour force, particularly during 1997-2000. At the same time mining has caused high unemployment in surrounding communities by taking away large tracts of land from farmers and not providing enough jobs to make up for the number of people laid off from agriculture.[6] Small-scale miners (galamsey) are also further marginalised as their access to the gold fields is restricted and they are forced to seek other work, or to open up new (previously forest or agricultural) areas themselves.

Human rights and environmental groups have denounced a pattern of abuse by mining companies that includes burning villages, illegal detention, rape, intimidation and dog attacks on villagers."[7] A recent fact finding mission carried out by Ghana's Human Rights and Administrative Justice Committee in the Wassa area confirmed reports of arbitrary arrests, violations of the right of access to food, forceful evictions, inadequate compensation and demolishment of villages." The government body found overwhelming evidence of human rights violations occasioned by the mining activities which were not sporadic but a well established pattern common to almost all mining communities."[8]

The district of Tarkwa which contains half of Ghana's large mines shows the enormous social and environmental impact of the gold boom. Mining here displaced 30,000 people during 1990-98, contaminated rivers and streams and destroyed farm and forest lands. Two-thirds of the land in Tarkwa has been sold off to multinationals with minimal compensation to local owners. The dislocation effects every aspect of the social fabric" and has led to high levels of prostitution, a rise in the incidence of AIDS, family disorganization and unemployment as people lose their farms. The police have intervened when people have refused to leave and demanded fair compensation from the company for their lost land, crops and home. In December 1999, police shot and wounded nine people during demonstrations against the lay off of 1,000 workers by Gold Fields Limited at its Tarkwa mine (18.9% owned by Repadre Capital Corporation of Toronto at the time)(Repadre merged with IAMGOLD effective January 7, 2003).[9]

Air and water pollution stemming from mining operations in Tarkwa have spread malaria, tuberculosis, silicosis, acute conjunctivitis and skin diseases. The mines use cyanide heap leach technology which involves spraying cyanide on ore to extract gold. The liners and dams used to hold the cyanide in tend to leak and even fail completely. In June 1996, a spill at Teberebie Goldfields sent 36 million litres of cyanide solution into the Angonaben stream, a tributary of the Bonsa River. Cocoa crops and fish ponds were destroyed and local people complained of rashes. The affected farmers sued the company for compensation in 1997 and the case continues.[10]

The End of Forests

As if all this was not disastrous enough, under pressure from mining companies, the Ghanaian government seems set to pass legislation in June 2003 which will open the country's protected forest reserves to mining. The companies bulldozers are ready to rip apart thousands of hectares of rainforest in the Ashanti, Eastern and Western Regions if the government gives them permission. The targeted areas include the Subri River Forest Reserve (the biggest in the country), the Supuma Shelterbelt, the Oppon Mansi, Tano Suraw and Suraw Extension Forest Reserves.

Mining (along with logging, plantation agriculture and other development") has already destroyed most of Ghana's forest cover – only 12% remains. Ten to twelve thousand people depend on the forest reserves directly for their food and livelihood. Rivers and streams in the reserves feed into major rivers that supply water to many villages, towns and cities. Mining's required use of toxic chemicals will destroy the water bodies that provide drinking water for millions of people. The forest reserves are also considered globally significant for their biological diversity; they contain over 700 types of tropical trees and many endangered species including 34 plants, 13 mammals, 23 butterflies and 8 birds. Thirteen Ghanaian human rights, labour and environmental groups have combined to oppose mining in the forests.

The five companies lining up for licences to mine the forest reserves are Newmont, Nevsun, Birim, Chirano Goldmines, and Satellite Goldfields. Nevsun and Birim are Canadian and Birim has sold its forest property to Golden Star, also Canadian. Birim will continue to get royalties from gold production on the property. Similarly, Nevsun has handed over management of its forest reserve property to Ashanti Gold Fields from which it will also receive production royalties. (see company sections below for more on their role in the forest reserves).

The five corporations have pledged to invest $2 billion on mining the reserves and claim to have spent $10 million on exploration which they say identified staggering volumes" of gold deposits. As a spokesman for the companies explained We have to recoup our money...we want the government to grant us permits to throw out the trees and the animals in the forest reserves to make way for full-scale surface mining operations." The $2 billion is important to the Ghanaian government because since 1998 only a handful" of new mines have opened as compared to dozens during 1990-95. The government is also concerned with the companies threat to relocate to countries with friendlier regulations and to pursue legal action if denied entry to the reserves. The corporations have made it clear that Ghana's reputation as an attractive site for foreign investment depends on whether the government will allow them to mine the forests. The companies have also unleashed a barrage of pro-mining propaganda and pledged material aid to persuade the public. But as Akosua Birago, a 62 year old farmer at Abekoase in the Western Region, put it We have heard it all before. They came with all sorts of promises, but we saw nothing. They devastated our lands and livelihoods and showed little respect for civil rights. Our villages have already been so rapaciously deforested by mining, and the health and the quality of remaining forests continue to decline, and now they are asking for the forest reserves; do they think Ghanaians wash their faces from their chin upwards?"[11]

Ironically, the World Bank which pushed Ghana to hand over its mining sector to foreign corporations and to increase extraction and exports has itself admitted the failure of this strategy.

A recent study by the Operation Evaluation Department (OED) of the bank reviewed its policy towards six countries, including Ghana from 1993 to 2002. The study concluded that the risks and costs of developing the mining sector outweighed potential benefits." The risks included long term environmental damage with accompanying health consequences, the destruction of the traditional (and more sustainable) economic foundations of local communities," forced resettlement and increased corruption. The study adds that because minerals like gold are limited and non-renewable their exploitation cannot be a long-term base for developing the economy."[12]

Canadian Companies

IAMGOLD Corporation

Based in Markham, Ontario, IAMGOLD Corporation has assets of $431 million. The company's main properties are in West Africa. IAMGOLD owns 18.9% each of the Tarkwa/Damang gold mine complex in Ghana with Gold Fields Limited of South Africa owning 71.1% and the Government of Ghana, 10%. IAMGOLD also owns 38% of the Sadiola Gold Mine and 40% of the Yatela Gold Mine, both in Mali. Tarkwa produced 523,000 ounces of gold in 2002 and Damang, 285,000. IAMGOLD's share of income from the Tarkwa and Damang mines was $1.9 million for the first quarter of 2003.

On May 8, 2003, IAMGOLD announced a U.S.$159 million expansion of the Tarkwa mine involving the installation of a mill and the buying of a new mining fleet and support equipment. This expansion is expected to increase annual gold production to over 700,000 ounces.[13]

The shooting of nine people discussed above is not the only damage linked to the Tarkwa mine. The operation of the mine has meant the forceful removal of at least 20,000 people from their homes and caused Ghana's worst environmental disaster. IAMGOLD's partner Gold Fields has also prevented more than 4,000 members of the Atuabo, Mandekrom and Sofo Mensakrom communities from farming land. According to the Third World NetworkcAfrica, Villages which have protested have been attacked by mine security and state police. One such community is Nkwantakrom where 52 mine security and 15 policemen demolished an entire village under the pretext that the settlement is illegal. The fact is that the villagers had complained to the company about their polluted water source."[14]

In October 2001, a tailings dam at Tarkwa burst sending thousands of cubic metres of mine wastewater into the Asuman River contaminating it with cyanide and heavy metals. Virtually all life forms in the river and its tributaries were killed" and a thousand people lost access to drinking water. Hundreds of dead fish, crabs and birds lay on the banks of the river and floated on its surface. According to scientists, the cyanide and heavy metal residue from the spill could remain for decades threatening human health and the environment. Daniel Owusu Koranteng, executive director of the local mine watch organization Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) said at the time: People in the villages of Abekoase and Huni have lost their clean drinking water and their livelihood as they can no longer sell or eat produce from their farms through which the river runs. Gold Fields should not hide from their responsibility for damages, we need to demand compensation for those directly affected by mining disasters."

In January 2003, another spill seemed to have occurred when water from an abandoned underground mine at Tarkwa seeped into the Asuman River arousing fears of contamination and severe health impacts. Residents said the water, which they suspected was contaminated, filled the mine shaft and flooded the Asuman River. The people of Abekoase remembered the 2001 spill and once again stopped fetching water from the river.[15]

Given the horrendous record of the Tarkwa mine, it is not surprising that Gold Fields, (one of the world's biggest gold mining companies) is about to be sued in New York for $7 billion for making Blacks work under subhuman conditions." The suit is being brought by the Apartheid Claims Task Force; it stems from complainants in the apartheid compensation cases and relates to unlawful practices in the apartheid era continuing to the present." As task force lawyer John Ngcebetsha explained: Gold Fields appears to have cared more about their profits than they did about their employees... all of whom were forced to live in and work under subhuman conditions, exposed to dangerous substances and without adequate safety equipment and facilities. And the only reason for this was that the labourers were black. The task force demands that Gold Fields produce secret reports about the dangerous conditions in the mines, including uranium contaminated water. Gold mine workers have been exposed and are now becoming sick and are dying just like what happened and is happening to asbestos workers."[16]

Birim Goldfields Inc.

Montreal-based Birim has assets of $8.3 million. The company's gold exploration is focused on Ghana, where its main acquisitions are the large Bui District Property and the Dunkwa concession. Birim has defined more than a dozen targets at Bui, five of which are at the drill ready stage. The company calls these targets a substantial portfolio of gold prospects" and is exploring them. The Bui area licences (6,970 sq. km.) of west-central Ghana, are made up of the Bui reconnaissance licence (6,520 sq. km.), the Chenchu prospecting licence (150 sq. km.), the Krachikrom prospecting licence (150 sq. km.), and the Brohani prospecting licence (150 On May 29, 2003, Birim announced the start of its drilling campaign on the Brohani prospect which has yielded gold values up to 2.5 grams per tonne in soils."

The Dunkwa property covers 125 sq. km., straddling the structural corridor" containing the Kubi, Bogosu and Prestea gold deposits. According to Birim, the productive segment of the Ashanti Gold Belt stretches over roughly 100 kilometers and the Dunkwa property spans the central 45% of that section."

On April 16, 2003, Birim announced the sale of its Dunkwa property to Golden Star Resources Ltd., another Canadian company (see section), for U.S.$3.4 million in cash and a 2% to 3.5% royalty depending on the gold price and amount of gold found. The US$3.4 million is an advance royalty on the first 200,000 ounces of gold recovered from the Mampon deposit on Dunkwa. Mampon contains an initial resource" of 700,000 ounces of gold. Gold production at Mampon exceeding 200,000 ounces and any additional production from other deposits on the Dunkwa property will be subject to the sliding scale royalty. Birim is looking forward to a steady stream of royalty income from production at Dunkwa.

Significantly, Mampon is located within one of Ghana's few remaining forest reserves. According to Birim, Golden Star plans to develop an open pit mining operation on the Mampon and adjacent Aboronye deposits. As Birim puts it:

Now that the Government of Ghana has given its blessing with regards to mining within productive forest reserves, Birim expects the development of the Mampon gold project to proceed swiftly. Birim views the decision to allow mining activities within production forest areas as a very positive and significant development which will enhance its commitment to gold exploration and development in Ghana. The pre-production royalty associated with the permitting of the Mampon project, along with additional future production royalties, will set the stage for the sustained exploration of the Company's significant land holdings within Ghana on the Bui structural belt and the undeniably prolific Ashanti belt.

Birim and 13 other companies have been exploring within forest reserves in Ghana since 1995. Their activities stopped during 1996-97 when the Ghanaian government imposed a moratorium on mineral exploration in forest reserves. The government wanted to create guidelines controlling access to and exploration in the forest reserves. The moratorium was lifted in February 1998 and in December 2001, the government allowed the companies to start environmental studies, the final step before the application for a mining permit.[17]

Golden Star Resources Ltd.

Golden Star is a producing gold company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado (U.S.) but incorporated in British Columbia; its registered office is in Vancouver. The company has assets of U.S.$109.5 million and aims to become a mid-tier gold producer over the next few years." Golden Star's main properties are in Ghana where it owns 90% of the Bogoso/Prestea open-pit gold mine (10% owned by the Ghanaian government), 45% of the Prestea underground mine (45% owned by Prestea Gold Resources and 10% by the government of Ghana) and 90% of the Wassa gold project (10% owned by the Ghanaian government). The Company also owns a diamond project in Cote d Ivoire and three gold properties in French Guiana (South America).

The Bogoso/Prestea goldmine is located in south-west Ghana about 200 kilometres west of Accra, the capital. The mine is Golden Star's production base and contains 2,090,793 ounces of gold; the company's forecast gold production for 2003 from Bogoso/Prestea exceeds140,000 ounces. Golden Star plans to spend $4 million on exploration at the mine in 2003.

The Wassa gold project islocated in south-central Ghana about150 km west of Accra. Gold production at the mine started in 1999 but stopped in 2001 due to the lower than expected amount of gold recovered. Golden Star then bought the mine and is carrying out exploration and a feasibility study for potential redevelopment. The feasibility study is expected to be completed in mid-2003. The company plans to spend $1 million on exploration at Wassa during 2003.

Golden Star is also assessing the potential of theinactive Prestea Underground mine and during the course of this has put the facility on care and maintenance." The company plans to spend $2 million on exploring the mine during 2003; this includes an underground drilling program which Golden Star intends to start in the second quarter of the year.

On April 16, 2003, Golden Star confirmed the acquisition of the Dunkwa concession from Birim Goldfields (see section on Birim) which includes the Mampon gold property located in a forest reserve. The company refers to Mampon as one of five projects identified by Ghana Government as eligible for a mining permit subject to normal permitting procedures and a site inspection." According to Golden Star, there is significant potential" to set up open pit and underground reserves at Mampon.The company estimates Mampon's probable mineral reserves to be 234,162 ounces of contained gold.[18]

Golden Star's imminent entry into Ghana's forest reserves comes after its mining operations have already spread massive disaster in another poor country. In Guyana, the company owned 30% of the Omai gold mine which caused reportedly the biggest cyanide spill in world history. On August 19, 1995, the tailings dam at Omai burst, sending four billion litres of cyanide-filled mud into the Essequibo, Guyana's main river and its most important source of fresh water. The government declared a national emergency. Residents of the river communities reported thousands of dead fish in the Essequibo River and the Pan-American Health Organization concluded that the Omai River (on which the mine was located) was a dead river." The residents depended on the rivers for fish and water, and both necessities were denied by the spill. The spill also destroyed crops and farms and was followed by an increase in health problems. Many residents complained of skin rashes and gastro-intestinal illnesses. Golden Star's partner Cambior Inc. (based in Montreal) which owned 65% of the Omai mine, was sued in Canada for $69 million by 23,000 Guyanese residents. The case was referred back to Guyana.[19]

Golden Star already has experience in forest mining with negative results for the communities involved: the company has operated in the rainforests of Suriname and Guyana where it has been involved in conflicts with indigenous groups whose land it has attempted to explore without their permission. In the case of the Saramaka Maroon community of Nieuw Koffiekamp in Suriname, the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) reported in 1996 that members of both the police and Golden Star's private security force have been implicated in threatening, harassing and intimidating members of the community.... On a number of occasions [police and security force] patrols shot live ammunition at or over the heads of Nieuw Koffiekampers.... Many of those who have been shot at were doing nothing more than tending their agricultural plots and gathering food in the forest."[20]

Nevsun Resources Ltd.

Nevsun is based in Vancouver with $22 million in assets. The company is focused on its Tabakoto/Segala Projects in Mali. It also owns the Bisha property in Eritrea and the Kubi Mine in Ghana. Part of Kubi is in a forestry reserve. Nevsun has handed over management of Kubi to Ashanti Goldfields Company. Under an agreement, Ashanti paid Nevsun U.S.$1.8 million for the first 60,000 ounces of gold mined from Kubi. For additional gold recovered, Ashanti will pay a U.S.$15 per ounce royalty. Ashanti is also allowed to develop underground resources at Kubi.

Open pit mining at Kubi started in 1999-2000 and about 30,000 ounces have been mined. Ashanti is now waiting for officiial permission to extend the pit into the forestry reserve.[21]

Moydow Mines International Inc.

Toronto-based Moydow acquires and explores gold properties principally in West Africa. The company has been active in Ghana since 1992 and has operating offices in Ireland, Ghana and Canada. Moydow has assets of $5.5 million. Until March 24, 2003, Moydow's main acquisition in Ghana was the Ntotoroso property in the Yamfo-Sefwi gold belt, a 50/50 joint venture with Newmont Mining. On that date, Moydow sold its share to Newmont for U.S.$20 million. Moydow will also get a 2% net smelter return royalty for all gold and silver production from Notoroso in excess of the currently defined reserve of 1.2 million ounces.

Moydow is exploring on two other properties in Ghana: Kanyankaw and Hwidem. Kanyankaw is a 50/50 joint venture with Antubia Resources Ltd., a subsidiary of Glencar Mining. The project is located 20 km south of the Tarkwa gold fields which have produced 10 million ounces of gold. The Hwidem property adjoins the Ntotoroso area. Moydow was granted a year's prospecting licence for Hwidem on August 18, 2002, by the Ghanaian government. The licence area covers 24.7 square kilometres. Moydow is committed to spending a minimum of $523,000 on exploring Hwidem.[22]

St. Jude Resources Ltd.

St. Jude is based in Delta B.C. with $17.9 million in assets. The company's two main gold projects, Hwini Butre and South Benso, are in Ghana's Tarkwa district. Both concessions straddle 35 kms of the rich Ashanti gold belt the center of much of the gold mineralization in Ghana." This area contains Ashanti Goldfield's forty million ounce Obousi mine, the biggest and richest gold mine in Ghana. St. Jude is exploring on the two properties which it believes contain one of the highest-grade gold deposits currently being developed in West Africa."

St Jude has spent over $12 million dollars exploring and developing Hwini Butre. This includes 30,000 metres of drilling and 16 kilometres of trenching. The company recently commissioned an initial independent resource calculation on the southern deposits at Hwini Butre. The calculation indicated 562,000 ounces of gold.

The company has spent $2 million on exploring South Benso which adjoins Hwini Butre. This includes 6,000 metres of drilling as well as extensive trenching. South Benso contains three gold deposits known as Subriso West, Subriso East and Subriso Central. Drilling at Subriso West returned 10.83 g/t (gold per ton) over five metres while drilling at Subriso Central revealed 12 metres of 78.71 g/t (2.3 ounces per ton gold over 39 feet). Given these results, St. Jude is confident that a significant and mineable resource is contained within the Subriso deposits."[23]

PMI Ventures Ltd.

Vancouver-based PMI has assets of $189,600. On November 25, 2002, the company announced that it had come to an agreement with Goknet Mining Company (a private Ghanaian corporation) to buy up to 85% of Goknet's interest in exploration properties covering 486 square kilometres along the axis of the Asankrangwa Gold Belt of South Western Ghana. The price paid by PMI is U.S.$260,000 and 3 million of its shares.

PMI is now exploring its acquisitions by drilling. According to the company within a 120 kilometre circumference of the properties there are 65 million ounces of gold reserves with past production of 50 million ounces of gold." This circumference includes the Tarkwa and Ashanti areas. Results from PMI's initial drill program announced on May 29, 2003, showed an 83-feet wide area of gold mineralization with grades of up to 3.59 g/t. The company considers this a potentially economic gold mineralized zone" over a significant width.[24]

AMI Resources Inc.

AMI is headquartered in Vancouver and has assets of $1.2 million. Its exploration activities are concentrated in south central Ghana where it has acquired three gold concessions along the rich Ashanti gold belt which contains the 40 million ounce Obuasi Mine. AMI's concessions are collectively known as the Adumasa Project which covers 37 sq. kms of the Ashanti belt. AMI owns 100% of Adumasa subject to a 10% called interest by the Ghanaian Government.

The company has spent more than $2 million exploring and developing Adumasa. Thisincludes trenching and 4,500 metres of drilling. AMI announced on February 19, 2003 that its latest drilling program showed grades of up to 6.64 g/t over seven metres. The company considers these results to be excellent and believes that they greatly enhance the potential of the Adumasa Project in Ghana, to host a multi-million ounce resource."[25]

Akrokeri-Ashanti Gold Mines Inc.

Akrokeri-Ashanti Gold Mines (AAGM) is a gold producer based in Toronto with U.S.$12.3 million in assets. The company has projects in Ghana and Peru. In Ghana, AAGM has an 85% interest in theBonte Gold Mine and a 90% interest in the Goldenrae Mining properties. Bonte is located at the northern end of the Asankragwa-Manso-Nkwanta gold belt in the Ashanti Region. The mine started producing in1991 and since then has produced over 315,000 ounces of gold averaging 52,000 ounces per year in the last five years. In 2002, 46,055 ounces of gold were produced at Bonte, a 29% decrease from 2001. According to AAGM this was due to recovery difficulties" and an extended wet season that hindered access to higher-grade ores.

Goldenrae, which AAGM acquired in 2000, has two mining leases and a processing plant. AAGM has been given two prospecting licences next to the mining leases. The two Goldenrae leases contain a proven and probable reserve estimated at130,000 ouncesof gold. AAGM intends to review the Goldenrae reserve base and explore the licences.[26]


Toronto-based AXMIN has $9.6 million in assets. Its main properties are in the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Mali. In Ghana, AXMIN has an option to earn 80% interest in the Cape Three Points exploration licence held by Consolidated Minerals Ltd. The licence covers 76 sq km in southwestern Ghana and lies at the southern end of the rich Ashanti Belt. The licence area includes 12 sites of historic workings focused on quartz reef hosted gold mineralisation." The Satin Mine has the most important workings and indicates a grade of about 40 g/t over a width of 0.6 metres. Drilling by AXMIN has shown grades of 58.8 g/t over 2 metres.[27]

Alcan Aluminium Ltd.

Headquartered in Montreal, Alcan is the world's largest producer of flat-rolled aluminum products and is involved in all aspects of the aluminum industry. The major multinational has operations in 41 countries and 53,000 employees worldwide. Alcan's assets are worth U.S.$17.5 billion. In Ghana, Alcan owns 80% of the Ghana Bauxite Company (GBC); 20% is owned by the Ghanaian government. GBC employs 500 people and Alcan has been mining in Ghana for 50 years. The bauxite is extracted from Alcan's open cast mine at Awaso in western Ghana, taken by train to the port of Takoradi and sent to refineries in Europe and North America. GBC produced 700,000 tons of bauxite in 2000 and Ghana is the third largest bauxite producer in Africa. Alcan is involved in bauxite mining in Ghana, Guinea, Brazil, India, Jamaica and Australia.[28]

Ghana exports bauxite to Scotland and Canada, but imports alumina for refining. This disadvantageous position has led the Ghanaian government to seek domestic refining capacity. At the end of 2002, the government began negotiations with BHP Billiton, an Australian mining company, to build a $1 billion bauxite refinery in the country and to mine bauxite. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, the Minister for Mines at the time explained: Ghana has large deposits of bauxite, it is not able to process the raw bauxite into alumina locally due to the absence of a refinery." To his regret, he added Ghana's bauxite deposit at Awaso is being mined and exported in its raw state abroad, where it is processed into alumina and imported back into the country."

The Billiton refinery would challenge Alcan's dominant position in West African bauxite mining. Alcan controls bauxite mining not only in Ghana but also in Guinea, the world's largest producer of aluminum ore. In Guinea, Alcan is the majority shareholder in Cie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG), a company in charge of aluminum mining in the country. [29]


[1] Ghana: Mining: "Gold Mining,"; Mineral Production Dips In Ghana,", Feb 25, 2003.

[2] Government of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), "Economic Profile - Ghana," May 2003,

[3] MiningWatch Canada, "Reality Check – The Globalization of Natural Resources: Mining and the World Bank/International Monetary Fund: A Special Focus on Ghana," July 2001, p. 3.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network (SAPRIN), The Policy Roots of Economic Crisis and Poverty: A Multi-Country Participatory Assessment of Structural Adjustment, April 2002, Main Report (MR), pp. 131, 134; MiningWatch Canada, p. 3; John Kampfner, "Ghana — Prisoner of the IMF," BBC News, November 5, 2001,

[6] SAPRIN, Executive Summary (ES) p. 15; (MR), pp. 134-135; Mining Watch Canada, p. 3.

[7] Protect Forest Reserves; "Keep Mining Companies Out in Ghana," Global Response - Action Alert #3/03,

[8] Mike Anane, "Gold Discovered Beneath Ghana's Forest Reserves," Environment News Service, March 4, 2003,

[9] MiningWatch Canada, op.cit., p. 3; Kampfner, BBC News, op.cit.

[10] MiningWatch Canada, op.cit., p. 4; SAPRIN (MR), p. 143.

[11] Anane, op.cit.; Jon Offei-Ansah, "Ghana's golden dilemma," New African, May 2003, p. 48; FIAN International Secretariat, "Ghana: Gold mining threatens forest communities," April, 17, 2003; "Campaign Against Mining in Ghana's Forest Reserves by National Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Mining in Forest Reserves 7-8th May 2003, Accra."

[12] Nuna Senaya, "Mining Has Done Ghana No Good," Africa News Service, May 13, 2003.

[13] IAMGOLD Corporation, "Corporate Profile;" Press Releases: "IAMGOLD Announces Expansion at Tarkwa Mine" May 8, 2003; "IAMGOLD Delivers Another Solid Quarter" May 15, 2003; "IAMGOLD Reports 2002 Production and Reserves/Resources" February 18, 2003.

[14] Theodore E. Downing and Carmen Garcia-Downing, "Risk Liability Mapping in Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement," Paper presented at the International Symposium on Resettlement and Social Development, Nanjing, China, May 12, 2002,—risk-liabilit.pdf; William Appiah, "Case Study: Ghana: A Brief Case Study of Wassa Traditional Area," ISODEC/Third World Network-Africa,

[15] Emmanuel Kojo Kwarteng, "Ghana Gold Mine Spills into River Polluted in 2001, Environment News Service, January 10, 2003,; Project Underground, "Ghanaian Communities Hit Hard by Two Cyanide Spills," Drillbits & Tailings, Volume 6, Number 9, November 30, 2001,; Bank Watch, "James Bond, Cyanide and Heroin: How the World Bank May Poison Eastern Europe, Again," Press Release, 18 June 2002,

[16] Business Day, "Gold Fields is Facing Lawsuit for ‘Subhuman Working Conditions'" May 2, 2003,,3523,1337181-6078-0,00.html.

[17] Birim Goldfields Inc., "The Company," "Properties;" Press Releases: "Birim Agrees to Sell Dunkwa Property and Ashanti Royalty to Golden Star for US$3.4 Million and Sliding Scale Royalty," April 16, 2003; "Birim – $1.8 Million Financing Fully Subscribed – Drill Program Planned for the Mansiso Prospect," February 27, 2003; "5,000 Metre Drill Programme Underway," May 29, 2003.; Financial Statement, December 31, 2002; "Ghana: Mining: Gold Mining,"

[18] Golden Star Resources, "Corporate Profile," "Corporate Strategy," "Poised for Success," "Operations;" Quarterly Report, March 31, 2003; Press Release: "Golden Star Expands its Ghanaian Property Holdings, Announces Strategic Plans for Expansion at Bogoso/Prestea," April 16, 2003,;

[19] Pratap Chatterjee "Environment-Guyana: Cyanide Spill Could be Long-Term Disaster!" August 30, 1998, The People's Paths Home Page,; Sonia Verma, "Not in My Backyard," This Magazine, November/December 1998, pp. 33-5; Roger Moody, Grave Diggers: A Report on Mining in Burma, MiningWatch Canada/Canadian Friends of Burma, February 2000, pp. 44-5; "Case Study: Cyanide Spill in the Essequibo River, Guyana, South America,"

[20] Project Underground, "Golden Star/Cambior in Suriname," Drillbits & Tailings: September 15, 1996,; For more on Golden Star's conflicts with indigenous groups in Suriname and Guyana see: "People of Kwamalasemutu Want Golden Star Resources to Leave their Land and Ask that their Land Rights be Recognized by the Government," Forest People's Programme, Press Release, 14 January 1997,; "Resolution of the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples in support of the Indigenous Peoples of the Morvica Reservation in Guyana," Third Conference, International Alliance of the Indigenous-Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests,

[21] Nevsun Resources, "About Nevsun," "Projects," "Kubi, Ghana,"

[22] Moydow Mines, "Ntotoroso/Projects," Annual Report 2002, Press Release: Moydow to sell Ntotoroso to Newmont for US$20 million," March 24, 2003,

[23] St. Jude Resources, "Overview," "Gold Projects," Quarterly and Year-End Report, October 31, 2002,; AMI Resources Inc., "Adumasa Project," News Release, February 19, 2003.

[24] PMI Ventures, "Corporate Profile," "Letter to Shareholders," January 6, 2003, Financial Statements, December 31, 2002, Press Releases: "PMI Ventures Ltd. Secures Ghanaian Property Acquisition," January 20, 2003, "PMI Ventures Ltd. Announces Further Results of its Initial Drill Program," May 29, 2003,

[25] AMI Resources, "About Us," "Adumasa Project," Annual Information Form, December 31, 2002, News Release, February 19, 2003.

[26] Akrokeri Ashanti, "The Company," "Properties," Quarterly Report, March 31, 2003, "Press Release: Akrokeri-Ashanti Reports 2002 Annual Results and 1st Quarter Results for 2003," May 20, 2003.

[27] AXMIN, "Corporate Profile," Ghana,"

[28] Alcan, "Overview," "Economic Success," "Press Release: Alcan Buys Control of Ghana Bauxite Company," May 22, 2002,; "Ghana - Mining Bauxite Overview,"

[29] E. Ablorh-Odjidja, "A Billion Dollar Bauxite Refinery for Ghana?" December 5, 2002.