Following concerns raised by the Jasikan Catholic Diocese that there has not been an extensive stakeholder consultation ahead of a planned iron ore exploration activity in the Jasikan area of the Oti Region, the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC) has moved in to engage the church.
GIISDEC has explained to the Catholic Diocese of Jasikan that it is committed to responsible activities and best practices in the area.
GIISDEC has consequently agreed to deepen and broaden stakeholder consultation in the area.
The Bishop, Clergy and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Jasikan had in an earlier statement raised concerns over the government’s intention to start iron ore exploration activities in the region and its impact on the livelihood of the people.
After a meeting between GIISDEC, the Catholic Diocese of Jasikan and the Oti Regional Minister on December 13, 2022, the parties issued a communique dated January 20, 2023.
The joint agreement was signed by the Chief Executive Officer of GIISDEC, Kwabena Bonsu Fordwor and the Catholic Bishop of Jasikan, Most Rev. Gabriel A. A. Mante as well as the Oti Regional Minister, Joshua G. Makubu.
Under the agreement, GIISDEC is to broaden the stakeholder engagements across the entire region while the regional minister and GIISDEC are to ensure that the Mineral Resource Estimation (MRE) activities in the region are conducted in accordance with the relevant environmental laws and procedures.
GIISDEC is also expected to undertake extensive public education on Iron Ore exploration and related matters through the mass media and other channels of communication while fostering dialogue and discussion with stakeholders.
The agreement also committed the Bishop to use his office to rally the support of the people in the region for the government’s venture.
“That, the Lord Bishop will use his good offices to sensitise the public about the mandate of GIISDEC in representing the interests of Government of Ghana regarding Iron Ore exploration in the Region.
“That all the Parties have agreed to the above in good faith in the anticipation that this will strengthen the collective bond of the parties in promoting the development of effective and sustainable Iron Ore exploration in the Region in the best interests of stakeholders,” the joint communique said.
More iron deposits have been discovered at Nkwanta in the Oti Region, adding up to the recent discovery of the mineral resource in that region around Gyamurume and Wawaso in commercial quantities.
Ten investors have also been selected to conduct mineral resource estimation (MRE) in 10 iron ore blocks in the Akpafu Range in the Oti Region.
The companies are expected to invest about $10 million in the geoscientific studies, which encompass assessing the tonnage, grade and value of iron ore deposits.
The MRE, which GIISDEC is currently embarking on is a crucial step mining development, as it bridges the gap between mineral exploration and commodity production.