…As Benviko attempts to take over Kaasmil Mining Concession in Tontokrom
The decision by Benviko Company Limited to forcefully take over a 75-acre mining concession belonging to Kaasmil Mining Company limited with only a prospecting license with the support of the District Chief Executive and the Military has brought heavy tension in Tontokrom, a town in the Amansie South District of the Ashanti Region.
Sources indicate that though Benviko has no mining lease, the company has succeeded in taking charge of the concession and engaging in active mining of gold in the area. Sources have also indicated that negotiations are currently ongoing between the Chief Executive of Benviko company, Ben Owusu Achiaw to sell the same concession to Asanko Mines, a large-scale mining company. with only a prospecting license, Benviko has been mining gold actively on the land for about two years with the support of the District Chief Executive, William Bediako, the District Police Command together with some unidentified military personnel being housed by the DCE.
Though the regional Security Coordinator and the Regional Police command have given Kaasmil the go-ahead to continue with its legal mining activities, the DCE, sources say continues to resist the move INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS AND SABOTAGE; THE CASE OF GALAMSEY IN TONTOKROM Current events and actions offering in the Amansie South District of the Ashanti region regarding the conduct of government officials and their pronouncements on the issue of small scale mining rights and activities within the district clearly demonstrate a clear contradiction, sabotage and open antipathy of personnel and agencies of the central government against the policy of fighting the menace of illegal mining popularly called “ Galamsey “.
Currently festering manifestly in the Amansie South District with the capital at Manso Adubia , headed by the District Chief Executive, William Bediako, is the imminent perpetration of these acts initiated by the DCE and Ben Owusu Achiaw, managing director of Benviko, that is aimed at not only denying and depriving genuinely licensed and authorized persons and companies duly permitted by the government Through the legal institutions and agencies including the Ministry of Lands and Mineral sources (MLMR); the regulated artisanal small scale mining agencies, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inter-ministerial committee on illegal mining (IMCIM),
The Amansie South District Assembly; the chief Inspector of Mines and others to dig for, win, mine and to produce gold and diamonds on concessions within the district, at Tontokrom, their acquired rights and permits to operate, but to forcefully by the use of their selected band of Police, Army and other security personnel to illegally seize plants, machinery and structures from their acquired concessions unlawfully convert them to their own use and personal profit.
William Bediako (DCE)is a government appointee and his friend Ben Owusu Achiaw is said to be the chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Peoples Republic of China to abolish remove and eradicate illegal mining (galamsey) and to restore and promote the lawful small scale mining in its stead.
The said Benviko company limited is currently holding an agreement with the government acting by then minister of Lands and Natural Resources John Peter Amewu granting it” the right and license to prospect for and prove gold under the licensed area “ for a term of (3) years from 31st march 2018( Prospecting Agreement and not Mining Permit).
In spite of the limitation of the permit granted Benviko company limited to the only prospect for gold and report back to the Minister, the District Chief Executive is said to have condoned and connived with its Managing Director to jointly take over the concession belonging to Kaasmil mining company which has been granted permission since 2013 to dig for, win, mine and to produce gold and diamond in a defined concession, and has in addition been given concession identity numbers, clearance by the EPA, clearance after vetting by IMCIM, certification to operate by the ASDA, and permit by the Chief Inspector of Mines to operate in the said concession at Tontokrom, and has been in operation which was recently lifted in respect of the small scale operatives.
The two are carrying out their said unlawful and illegal mining under the guise of governmental support and by force of armed police and Army officers and civilian thugs with impunity.
Tension mounts at Manso Adubia in the Ashanti Region
The DCE has been recently captured on video instigating and encouraging the chiefs and people of Manso Tontokrom at a public gathering to shoot to kill anybody who would resist their galamsey operations. He justified his said provocative orders that galamsey was the people’s source of wealth and neither he nor any officer or official of government would prevent the people from doing the galamsey business. He in fact boasted that he had the support and encouragement of high-ranking party and government officials to encourage and engage in galamsey operations in the district.
The District Chief Executive of Amansie South, William Bediako in an interview with this paper, which was recorded on the tape said he received a call from the seat of government to protect Benviko and he had no interest in Benviko. He said he is doing what he was told to do. He said he sees nothing problematics regarding his visit to the home of the Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu with the owner of Benviko to discuss issues relating to the mining concession.” I only use the military at my house. the police and the Military are only in my house, they are not on the field as the people are claiming, he stated.
INTERVIEW WITH THE CEO OF MINERALS COMMISSION
The Chief Executive officer of the Minerals Commission Kweku Addai Antwi Boasiako, In an interview, clarified that it is illegal and criminal for any company to use a prospecting license to engage in active mining like what Benviko is doing . “any company that will use a prospecting license to do active mining of gold is engaging in illegal and criminal activity and must be dealt with severely.
He said he has no knowledge about any ongoing negotiation between Benviko company Limited and Asanko Mines. he added that the minerals Commission does not involve itself in any direct negotiation between two parties. According to him the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources comes in only when the negotiations between the parties are completed and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources is presented with the document to study and approve. Manso Adubia in the Ashanti Region
THE CHIEF OF TONTOKROM
Nana Tonto who is the chief of Tontokrom availed himself for an interview to explain issues related to intimidation and attacks being meted out to the indigenes in the area. He blamed the District Chief Executive for the area for instigating violence in the area. He said through his lawyer, Nana Obiri Boahene, a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), several letters were written to the Minerals Commission to report the illegal activities of Benviko with the military and Police Personnel but nothing was done about it.
“A lot of people are dying in mining pits in the area due to their illegal mining activities but everybody is quiet and are doing nothing about it. What sort of country at all is this where people condone illegality? I am appealing to the president to initiate investigations into the issue and punish the perpetrators. Why should the DCE declare openly that he supports illegal mining at a time that the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo has vowed to put his presidency as a risk in a bid to fight and end illegal mining? That means he does not respect the president and must be punished for that
I remember Ben Owusu Achiaw (Benviko) Reported me to Lord Comey, Director of Operations at the Presidency and I went with him to discuss the issue. Lord told him to stop talking about his party membership issue and do the right thing since everybody is a member of the party and he could not use his influence in the party to intimidate people and snatch what rightfully belongs to them but he wouldn’t listen. How long would they keep the military and Army in the area to intimidate the good people of the area? We want the president to intervene and curb the situation. Manso Adubia in the Ashanti Region
REACTION FROM ASANKO MINES
The managing director of Asanko Mines, Mr. Fred Attakuma in an interview with this paper said he is not aware of any ongoing negotiations between the management of Asanko Mines and Benviko to take over the 75-acre concession at Tontokrom, he said he needed time to check with his exploration team to find out if some negotiations are ongoing.
Several attempts were made to speak to the managing director of Benviko company, Ben, Owusu Achiaw on the issue but be failed to respond to all the phone calls, and WhatsApp messages sent to him. The investigative team is still working to get in touch and get his reaction
Manso Adubia in the Ashanti Region