Newmont responds to youth demo in Ghana

Thursday, 5 June, 2014

A little bit after the fact, we’ve picked up on this story from Ghana, where news website published a story on a “massive demo” against mining company Newmont Ghana Gold in early May

Apparently numbering some 500 youth from local communities in Birim North district, Eastern Region, demonstrators were incensed that Newmont hadn’t “fulfilled their promise of employing people from the communities”.

In 2013, 240 Newmont workers were laid off as a result of low gold prices and the rising cost of doing business in Ghana, with further plans to shed another 600 by June this year. These plans have been criticised as having “no moral basis” by Ghana’s Mine Workers Association.

What makes this affair more noteworthy is the fact that Newmont then published a response to Ghanaweb. While the original article was pretty light on detail, the response was quite the opposite, running to over three pages. It points out that “there is ongoing dialogue to mutually resolve the concerns raised” and provides a precis of Newmont’s employment stance intended to redress the demo’s concerns. It also runs through Newmont’s work on “delivering sustainable socio economic developments,” “livelihood restoration,” and “ensuring high environmental performance.” It points out that in March 2014 Newmont actually won the accolade of “Best Community Interaction Mining Company in West Africa.” Though it doesn’t say from whom that recognition came, or on what basis, which undermines the achievement somewhat.    

There may be more to come on this front, and we’ll bring you news as we get it. It’s an interesting case that throws further light on the common problem of figuring out what’s realistic with regard to community expectations’ of mining companies operating in a difficult market. Addressing the problem head on like this is a good move, and if this is what Newmont is doing at community level, as well as in a more public forum, then there may be a positive outcome. Here’s hoping.