Chairman Wontumi’s Akonta mining: What we know
Chairman Wontumi’s Akonta mining: What we know.
Chairman Wontumi has been in the media following an allegation that some muscular men working in his mining company, Akonta Mining Ltd, chased out officials from the Forestry Commission from the Tano Nimiri forest reserve.
Following the incident, Akonta Mining Ltd said the company has a mining lease to operate in the forest reserve but the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission contradicted that view.
But the Minerals Commission has indicated that “…Akonta Mining Ltd has a pending application dated 25th August 2022, for a Mining Lease over an area within the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve. That application has not been determined by the Minister, who is mandated by law, to grant or refuse such applications.
“And for the avoidance of any doubt, Akonta Mining Limited has NO mining lease, mineral right, and/or permit to undertake any mining operations in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve, and steps are currently being undertaken to enforce the Minister’s Directive issued on 30th September 2022.”
This assertion has been collaborated by Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, the Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, where he submitted that the controversy around the Tano Nimiri forest reserve in the Amenfi West Municipality of the Western Region is much ado about nothing.
Per records available to him, Chairman Wontumi’s Akonta mining has no business in the forest reserve.
Speaking on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’ Morning show, Kweku Baako explained, “I have checked all the licences they hold from 2011, 2012 till date and it doesn’t have one for forest reserve. But the last one which the company’s application is pending, the one in August, has not been approved but that is in the forest reserve. So, what was the company doing there?… They had no business being in that particular place doing anything because, first of all, they haven’t approved that licence.”
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But what do we know about Akonta Mining Limited?
Abdul Malik Kweku Baako provided some brief information about the controversial company which belongs to the Ashanti regional chairman of the governing NPP.
Kweku Baako submitted:
1. The Company was granted a reconnaissance licence over an area of 135.87 square kilometres in Samreboi, on 15th June, 2011 for a term of one year, to expire on 14th June 2012, (Appendix 1). This area is outside the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve.
2. When the reconnaissance licence expired, he was granted a prospecting licence over the same area of land, on 31st December, 2012 for a term of two years to expire on 30th December, 2014 (Appendix 2)
3. By section 41 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), the area of a mining lease cannot exceed 63 square kilometres, i.e., 300 blocks (a block is 21 hectares).
4. So, after the prospecting, they divided the area into three [Samreboi (44.94 sq. km), Abekoase (44.94 sq. km) and Anhuntem 45.3 sq. km), and applied for three different leases in respect of the same area they had conducted the reconnaissance and prospecting.
5. The Samreboi and Abekoase leases were granted on 23rd July 2022 after he has paid the mineral right fees and ground rent (Appendix 3).
6. The Minerals Commission’s letter by which the lease was submitted for the Minister’s signature clearly states that these areas are outside the Forest Reserve (Appendix 4 and 5).
7. The site plans attached to the leases also show that they do not fall within the Forest Reserve (Appendix 6 and 7).
8. In respect of the Anhuntem application, the lease has not been granted because the company has not paid the mineral right fees and the ground rent. That area is also outside the Forest Reserve.
9. Apart from these three leases, the company applied for a prospecting licence to prospect for minerals in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve, and applied for a Forest Entry Permit.
10. It was in respect of this application that the Forestry Commission wrote to the Minerals Commission, saying although they have no objection to mining, it must be subject to the Minister’s Directive on prospecting in Forest Reserves (Appendix 9).
11. The application for a prospecting licence was later withdrawn, and the company applied for a mining lease over a portion of the Forest Reserve on 25th August, 2022.
12. The company’s application was for a 24-year lease, but the Minerals Commission advised the company to revise the mine life to 10 years (Appendix 10).
13. Beyond that, the application has not yet been determined by the Minister. So currently, the company has no mining lease to mine in the Forest, and they do not have a Forest Entry permit to enter the forest.