The Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation is assuaging fears that the country’s quest to mine the bauxite reserves in the Atewa Forest will lead to the destruction of three of the country’s water bodies which take their sources from the reserve.
The three rivers, Birim, Densu and Ayensu provide the source of drinking water for more than five million Ghanaians.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, Michael Ansah, GIADEC’s CEO said mining in the forest reserve will not be carried out close to the three rivers and as such as concerns that the bauxite mining will endanger them could not be true.
“If you look at the map of the mining concessions, where they [the three rivers] will be, for the Birim and Ayensu, their sources will be about 10 km from the points of these mining while the Densu’s will be 15 miles away,” he said.
According to him, in some mining concessions elsewhere in the world, rivers could be as close as one kilometer away and as such having the three rivers as far as they are currently, is in line with best practices.
The government’s decision to mine in the reserve has already led to the signing of the Sinohydro barter deal which would see the country exchange its share of bauxite for US$2bn which will be used for infrastructural projects across the country.
GIADEC, mandated to hold government’s Ghana’s full interest across the value chain in the integrated aluminum industry, will hold a minimum 30 percent stake in any new mine, refinery or smelter alongside private investors.
The mining of the bauxite is projected to commence by 2021.
The Atewa forest is part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa which stretch from southern Guinea into eastern Sierra Leone and through Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana into western Togo.
Deforestation has massively reduced the size of the forests and the Upper Guinea Forest is now restricted to a number of more or less disconnected reserves and a few national parks acting as man-made refuges for the region’s biodiversity.