Gold Fever a menace to farmers and rainforest

Ghana used to be called the Gold Coast. It’s still worthy of the name, especially now the price of gold is breaking every record. Beneath the Anjenjua Bepo Forest reserve in Ghana -a piece of rainforest- lies a big amount of gold. The giant American mining company Newmont wants to start up the Akyem mine.
They’re planning to open a pit of 2,6 kilometers long, 800 meters wide, 402 meters deep. Eventually the mine itself will have a surface of 74 hectares, whereas the construction of the mine and the infrastructure will take 1216 hectares, of which 74 hectares protected rainforest. The Anjenjua Bepo Forest reserve has a total surface of 569 hectares. The 83 avian species won’t exactly thrive thanks to the building of the mine, indeed some of them are already now threatened with extinction. The people living nearby respond cautiously, and with mixed feelings. Some are hopeful for work, but representatives of Newtom admit employment will be limited: 500 to 600 jobs in construction phase, 200 to 300 once operating. Moreover, such a big mining project is a threat to the traditional livelyhood of much more people.
10,000 people had to move for Ahafo, another Newmont-mine in Ghana. Plans for further enlargement will demand the removal of 10,000 more. The region around Ahafo provides 30 percent of food production in Ghana. 97 percent of its population is active in agriculture. The dispossessed small farmers receive a compensation per tree lost.  But no-one believes this will suffice to start up new plantations, to survive until these will be profitable again.
In the past years social unrest in Ahafo led to interventions of the Ghanian army. In the mean time Ghanian organisations are warning that mining companies have an eye on five more natural reserves. Exploitation will accelerate deforestation. The past forty years the surface of the Ghanian rainforest has been reduced to 1.2 million hectares, hardly one tenth of the original…

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