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27 August 2017

Bauxite deal: EPA has been unfair to us – Exton Cubic

Embattled mining firm, Exton Cubic Group, has accused the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of not giving it a fair hearing over the bauxite prospecting deal in the Tano-Offin Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.

EPA had accused the company of entering the forest illegally and has asked Exton to halt operations and take steps to obtain the right permits.

According to the Acting Director of Public Affairs at EPA, Mrs. Angelina Mensah the company failed to comply with some laid down procedures of EPA.

The matter came to the fore when the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah and the Atwima Mponua DCE confiscated the heavy duty trucks, vehicles and equipment belonging to Engineers and Planners (E&P) a company Exton engaged to help in its work at the site.

The EPA Public Affairs Director explained that Exton was supposed to among other things inform EPA before entering the forest and they were also supposed to undertake a liability estimate of environment degradation in the area saying such things were not done.

According to her, the liability estimate required that Exton engages consultants and persons versed in mining to “assess the pristine nature of the forest” and also create a fund “called reclamation bond” so that if any destruction was done during the prospecting “that money is used to remediate it.”

“The condition also states that if you do not do these things within three months we have to cancel, revoke or suspend your permit. Unfortunately they did not come back to us, by the time we could say jack, they were in the Nyinahin forest entering. You needed to inform the EPA before they did that. So it’s got nothing to do with their mining but instead it’s got to do with the fact that they did not go with the legal ambit of the EPA’s environmental assessment process,” she stressed.

But speaking on Citi FM news analysis programme on Saturday, the Public Relations Officer of the mining firm, Exton Cubic Group, Sammy Gyamfi insisted that they had all the necessary permits from the appropriate bodies to prospect the mineral but complained that several letters they wrote to the EPA to give them the mining permit received no response.

He added that no official of the EPA had also been the concession site ever since matter came to the fore.

“It is surprising that in all this the EPA hasn’t visited the site to ascertain the veracity of the publications out there that we are engaging in mining. Mining of bauxite is not something you can do in secrecy. You have regional and national offices and we are working with you. So at least one would have expected the EPA to at least give Exton Cubic a hearing.”

“In line with the principles of natural justice a man cannot be judged unheared. In all these things we have not received any correspondences from the EPA; we’ve not received any letters that we have sent to EPA dated 30th March 2017 and a reminder to that dated 18th July 2017. And EPA has not acknowledged receipt of these letters and they have also not replied so it strange that the state institution will use the media as platform for engaging local Ghanaian companies who are doing business in the country,” he added.

Mr. Gyamfi also said the issue of the reclamation bond is “totally inaccurate.”

There is no condition in our EPA permit that requires us to present a report within three month relative to the posting of reclamation bond. What our environmental permit says about the reclamation bond is that the EPA will specify a period within which that reclamation bond should be posted and they have not done that specification. So it is sad that the EPA will just base such an ultimate decision on hearsays and publications in the media,” he added.

By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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