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Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin project: illegal mining poses threat

The E ON 3 Group, the company authorised by the Bank of Ghana to mint the coin, has launched a campaign on responsible gold mining in the Ashanti Region

The Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin project says illegal mining (galamsey) is a threat to the coin. Consequently, the project is embarking on a responsible gold mining initiative as part of its corporate social responsibility to protect the purity of the coin and also ensure sanity in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector in the Ashanti Region.

The E ON 3 Group, the company that was given authorisation by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to mint the coin, launched an intensive media campaign on responsible gold mining in the Ashanti Region on 20 March 2023, which took representatives to three media stations in Kumasi – Sompa FM/TV, Opemsuo Radio and Pure FM.

Officials from the project took time to explain what the Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin stood for and the dangers posed to its noble objectives by galamsey, which is endemic in Asanteman.

The E ON 3 Group believes that there has been too much talk on stopping galamsey without corresponding action, and that the time to act is now to save the land and waters from further pollution and destruction.

The company said given that the Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin is 24 carat (99.9%) pure gold, it is imperative that its moves in gold sourcing be equally pure.

An image of the commemorative coin for His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene

Partners

The Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin was launched on 12 December 2021 to recognise Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, for his tremendous role in bringing to an end the protracted Dagbon conflict in Northern Ghana, as well as his other peace-building and national development initiatives.

Access Bank is the official banking partner for the gold coin, while GLICO and Coronation Insurance Co Ltd are the official insurers. Other partners are the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), KLG Group/KGL Foundation and Gold Coast Refinery.

The partners in the responsible gold mining initiative are the E ON 3 Group, Manhyia Palace, Ansong Askew, African Responsible Mining Company, Access Bank, KGL Group/KGL Foundation, PMMC, Gold Coast Refinery, GLICO and Coronation Insurance, supported by the World Gold Council, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and PX Précinox.

Pursuing zero mercury

A leading official of the E ON 3 Group said during the media interviews that the application of dangerous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide by actors in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector is having a hugely negative impact on Ghana’s ecosystem.

“There has been contamination of rivers in the Ashanti Region, including River Offin, with mercury and other dangerous chemicals, which has exposed many mining communities to serious environmental and health risks,” the official said.

“Therefore, we are going all out to promote zero mercury in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector in.”

Reclaiming the land/protecting rivers

The company also touched on reclamation of lands where mines have been exhausted. It intends to undertake such work under the responsible gold mining initiative.

The company maintained that the Asantehene takes great interest in ensuring that mined-out lands are returned to beneficial end use.

Everything will be done to reclaim exhausted lands in the Ashanti Region, it said.

Education and training

Officials of the company also noted that the Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin project will embark on sustained education and training programmes on illegal gold mining for chiefs in the Ashanti Region.

The courses will seek to build the capacity of traditional rulers to appreciate better the enormity of the galamsey challenge and prepare them properly to adopt local efforts to counter activities by illegal gold miners.

Besides this, there will be media engagements as part of efforts to deal with the threat of illegal gold mining.

The media play a fundamental role in creating a healthy environment by spreading awareness and creating avenues for engagement. As such, the media will be empowered to set the agenda for the anti-galamsey fight and responsible gold mining drive in Asanteman.

There will also be visits to churches and mosques to engage religious leaders and congregants on how to use their platforms to combat illegal gold mining.

Year of action

Already, the Asantehene has declared 2023 a year of action to protect lands and water bodies in his kingdom from activities by illegal gold miners.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu, E ON 3 said, had tasked chiefs under his authority to do their utmost best to protect their lands and rivers for the benefit of current and future generations. In doing that, he charged the chiefs to scrutinise all mining documentation and monitor the activities of small-scale gold mining companies to ensure that their operations do not have a negative impact on lands and water bodies.

At a regional consultative dialogue on small-scale mining in Kumasi in May 2021, Otumfuo warned chiefs under his authority that any of them whose lands or rivers have been destroyed by illegal gold miners will be summoned for questioning. Anyone who fails to provide a reasonable explanation for the environmental destruction will be sanctioned to serve as a deterrent to others, he said.

Also addressing the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs in Kumasi on 14 October 2022, Otumfuo called out his chiefs for not taking up the fight against illegal gold mining.

He accused some of them of accepting money from illegal gold miners, thereby making it difficult for traditional rulers to make any meaningful contribution to the fight against illegal mining.

Again, when the US ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer, called on the Asantehene at Manhyia Palace in October 2022, Otumfuo touched on President Akufo-Addo’s promise to put his presidency on the line at the height of the war against the illegal gold mining menace.

He wondered why the president had gone so far and yet illegal mining was still going on.

Supporting Otumfuo

Generally, officials of the company recognise the great efforts Otumfuo is making to bring sanity to the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector in the Ashanti Region.

They signalled their readiness to do everything within their means to support Asantehene in his sustained crusade against illegal gold mining.

A “Responsible Gold Mining Summit” will be launched in Kumasi to ensure that gold sourced from the small-scale mining sector is mined responsibly and traded in accordance with international standards, they said.

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