Refuse engulfs Birim North as Newmont ends contract

There is a looming Cholera outbreak at Birim North District in the Eastern region as mining giant, Newmont Golden Ridge Limited – a subsidiary of Newmont mining corporation – has ended a contract to pay for the cost of waste disposal in some communities affected with its mining activities.

The situation has led to piles of refuse in the communities as the waste has been neglected raising serious health concerns among residents as fears heighten over possible outbreak of Cholera and Malaria.

Newmont, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, agreed with the Communities affected with its mining activities to bear cost of waste management in the Communities hence the company procured and distributed 11 Waste Containers to the Communities which are being managed by Zoomlion on behalf of Newmont.

However, for about ten (10) months now, Newmont has not paid Zoomlion Ghana limited its haulage services forcing the waste management firm to stop disposing solid waste deposited into containers belonging to Newmont.

Currently, all waste containers in the Communities are full and spilling over while emitting pungent stench as degradable household waste decompose.

In a letter dated 24/07/2017 which Zoomlion Ghana Limited wrote to the Birim District Assembly, the company indicated that “haulage of refuse has not been paid for the past Nine (9) months, -November 2016 to July, 2017 – amounting to Fifty-four thousand Cedis (54,000).

The letter added that “there has been several follow ups but all have proved futile. We therefore want to inform your office about our intention to halt the services if payments are not done by the end of August, 2017.”

Zoomlion has therefore refused to haul refuse in the communities since November 2016.

The District Chief Executive Officer for Birim North, Hon. Remond Nana Damptey, with reference to the letter of Zoomlion, wrote to Newmont that “with the current financial status of the assembly, it cannot pay for these services”, adding that “the Assembly is not in the position to pay for the management of the landfill site.”

Speaking to Ultimate News’ Eastern regional Correspondent Kojo Ansah who visited the Communities, the DCE said, management of the Assembly will meet urgently to find ways to raise resources to collect the piles of waste in the communities and empty the Waste containers to avert outbreak of diseases considering the entrenched position of Newmont.

However, the assembly said it will want Newmont to withdraw all its waste containers from the communities since the assembly cannot bear the cost implications.

But Newmont has dismissed claims that it has failed to pay for the cost of waste disposal in the community paving the way for a possible cholera outbreak.

Communications and External Relations Manager, Newmont Akyem Mine, Marfo Oduro Kwarteng told that the mining company had a three year agreement with the assembly to fund the lifting of waste in the communities.

According to Marfo, the three year period has elapsed and it is not the responsibility of Newmont to continue paying for the cost of waste disposal in the community. He added that any decision for the mining company to continue to pay for the cost of waste disposal will have to be agreed by all parties concerned.

Marfo stated that Newmont has undertaken several projects in the community including an engineered land fill site, upgrading a clinic to a district hospital and helping with location and construction of a District Police Station.

Newmont stated that it is completely unreasonable and unfair for the assembly to blame it for the refuse situation in the community when they have already fulfilled their part of the contract.

By: Ghana/ Ansah