In June 2022, exclusively revealed how Ghana was on the verge of losing its renowned Cultural Heritage Site and Ramsar Site at Winneba in the Central Region following the application of mineral rights in the area. Published by the Minerals Commission on 19th May 2022, the permit was to allow Green Metals Resources Ltd to carry out large-scale mining concessions in the Efutu area. The mining plan revealed that, the world-renowned traditional hunting ground for the Aboakyer Festival would be affected including the internationally recognized Muni-Pomadze Ramsar site and the Yenku forest reserve. The protected areas, Muni-Pomadze Ramsar Site and Yenku Forest in Winneba have been preserved for many years and have become part of the embodiment of the people of Effutu, their heritage and culture. It also serves as the ‘sacred land’ for the people of Winneba, where they hunt dears for their famous Aboakyer Festival yearly. Following the expose’ at that time, the Effutu Traditional Council came out to reject the mining proposal saying it was concealed to them by the government and only became aware after it was posted on the notice board of the Effutu Municipal Assembly on June 17th, 2022. They wrote a petition to the Minerals Commission stating among others why the traditional authorities would not allow mining in the area. One of their concern was that, if the area was decimated by mining, it would completely bring to a halt the famous traditional festival on the African continent and the world over, the Aboakyer festival. They added that, it would also deprive the indigenous people of Effutu and its environs of their livelihood since it will harm the Muni Lagoon and the Ramsar site at large. Not long after sending the petition, and after coming under strong criticism from the members of the public, the Minerals Commission on July 9th, 2022, indicated in a statement that, it had refused to grant the licence to Green Metals Resources Limited to mine lithium in the Effutu area. A statement signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Mr Martin Ayisi said "It is important to state that, under the mining laws of Ghana, the chiefs and the communities must be consulted before any mineral rights can be recommended by the commission and same granted for any mineral activity or operation to take place in any area in Ghana". It explained that "Green Metals Resource Limited (Green metals) did apply for mineral rights in the area but the Commission has not recommended the grant of any mineral right nor has the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources granted any mineral right or lease to the company or to any company to explore or mine any mineral in the area in question". According to the Commission, it would not recommend the grant of any mineral right for green metal in the area, and the company was advised accordingly.
The U-turn
In a shocking U-turn, the Minerals Commission has published on its website confirming the granting of licence to Green Metals Resources Limited to mine lithium in the Effutu area. Per the records on the website of the Minerals Commission, the licence was granted on November 9, 2023, and will expire on November 8, 2026.
Effutu Traditional Council shocked
Neenyi Ghartey VII, the paramount chief of the Effutu Traditional Area, has once again conveyed the traditional council's disinterest in allowing lithium mining on their land. The chief expressed concerns about the potential environmental impact on their stream, lagoon, and hunting grounds, crucial for the annual Aboakyire festival. Speaking on the Class Morning Show with Kwame Dwomoh Agyemang on Wednesday, 13 December 2023, Neenyi Ghartey outlined three main reasons against any form of mining in the area. He emphasised that lithium mining, being surface mining, would destroy their stream and mini-lagoon, jeopardising their status as a Ramsar site of international importance. Additionally, the hunting grounds integral to the Aboakyire festival would be compromised. Neenyi Ghartey questioned the benefits of lithium mining compared to the contributions of the Aboakyire festival to tourism and the community's well-being. He stated: "I will be glad if somebody can come forward and tell me the tourism interest, what we give to the government because of the festival and what this lithium will give to us in three-five years." The paramount chief made it clear that as of now, no entity has approached the traditional council for mining in Winneba. However, he asserted that if such a situation arises in the future, both the council and the people will resist it. Neenyi Ghartey emphasised that mining is not the sole path to community development, adding that revenue from tourism, particularly from the Aboakyire festival, can contribute equally. “We will resist it because it’s not minerals alone that will make a country what it is. I’ve travelled to a few places and I know what the countries get from tourism. So, if that is ours and what we contribute towards the national good, why not protect it?" he remarked.
The threat since 2007
Our checks revealed that, there have been several attempts to carry out mining activities in the Aboakyer hunting grounds, and Ramsar site as far back as the year 2007 when a company expressed interest. The Caribbean Atlantic Holding Ghana Ltd, was said to have applied to the Minerals Commission for a mining concession in the aforementioned areas, but the move was heatedly opposed by the people of Winneba. Obotan Resources Ltd also allegedly made an effort to mine in the same protected areas in 2012 with an application, but the Effutu people resisted their attempts. Four years later, Merlic Resources Ltd also sought to mine in the same restricted areas, but their request was vehemently opposed by the good people of Winneba. Currently is Green Metals Company Limited pushing to mine in the area. At the beginning of December this year, the youth of Winneba, staged a massive demonstration against the purported sale of Winneba Ramsar site and other preserved heritage lands for mining purposes. The huge demonstration was a follow-up to an earlier warning jointly issued by the Paramount Chiefs of Effutu, Gomoa Akyenpim and Gomoa Ajumako traditional areas on the same subject matter. Speaking to the media on behalf of the youth, Dr James Kofi Annan, who is a proud native of Winneba, mentioned that the protestation was meant to register their displeasure and disapproval of the alleged move.
Some placards displayed by the demonstrators
The protest, he said, was “against the granting of any form of license and or concession to Green Metal Resources Ltd and or any other individual or company or group of companies for the purposes of mining in the globally recognised and protected Winnba Pomadze Ramsar site”. “We, the people of Winneba by this demonstration and its attendant petition are registering our disgust and protest against the granting of lease, permit or any form of concession to the Green Metals Resources Ltd or any other company for the purposes of mining in or anywhere near the Aboakyer grounds,” he added. To their surprise, he stated that Green Metal Resources were published as having been under consideration for a mining concession in the same area in 2022 but faced fierce protestations from the chiefs. “It is, therefore, surprising and disgusting that the same Green Metal Resources, which was rejected, has come back again to mine in the sacred ramsar site of the people of Effutu. “We would like to further state that the people of Winneba derive more perpetual benefits from the celebration of Aboakyer Festival than any anticipated mining of lithium in our protected areas. “There cannot be any celebration of Aboakyer Festival without the annual hunting the deer in the forest. The destruction of the forest will mean a sad end to the celebration of the Aboakyer Festival,” he stated. Explaining further, Dr Annan stated that the Aboakyer Festival has been their heritage, which was handed to them by their ancestors. The present generation, he stated, intended to protect it with pride and passion because it has been their cultural heritage, part of their spiritual being and they, therefore, protest any attempt to desecrate the sanctity of the sacred forest.