The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday suspended the mining operations of FCMI Financial Corporation at Mpeasem in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region until further notice.
FCMI Financial Corporation is an investment holding company involved in merchant banking, investments, asset and commodity management. The Company manages the Toronto Capital Group Fund.
EPA embarked on routine compliance monitoring in the Ashanti region and discovered that FCMI had violated on its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) hence the suspension.
According to EPA, it issued an Environmental Permit to Romex Gold Mining Limited on 24th October 2012, for 2years to undertake alluvial gold mining project at Mpeasem concession in the Upper Denkyira West District in the Central Region and Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region.
It was, however, discovered during the monitoring that after two months of Romex Gold Mines operation on the concession Romex sold it to Aburi Goldfields Ghana Limited which was financed by the FCMI Financial Corporation based in Canada.
Mr. Michael Sandow Ali, Deputy Director Mining Department of EPA, said the company had not notified EPA of changes in the ownership when Aburi Goldfields ceased operation and transferred its assets and management of the concession to FCMI.
Mr. Ali added that the company had also flouted a major condition the Water Resource Commission gave Romex to construct a diverting canal where the water used in the production would not contaminate the main Ayensu River. FCMI did otherwise and thereby destroying the water source of both the Ayensu and Offin rivers.
He noted that a 6-month reclaiming bond condition had also not been met by the company. He said that only $100,000 out of $400,000 initial assessment of land reclamation bond had been paid by Romex.
Mr. Ali also bemoaned the company's inability to remove the topsoil and overburden the concession after mining activities were completed.
"The overburden layer is 30-100 centimetre of gravely sub-soil material sitting above the cap rock. Before mining can begin, the topsoil and overburden are removed separately. The topsoil is directly returned to areas being rehabilitated. The overburden is stockpiled and is returned in the mine pit when mining is completed. Overburden contains few seeds and nutrients so stockpiling does not significantly affect its properties", he stressed.
Reacting to the EPA's query Mr Adinortey Plahar Chief Financial Officer of FCMI said, they took over from Aburi Goldfields Ghana Limited a month ago and had challenges with the operations due to the lack of equipment.
He admitted his outfit had violated some regulations and therefore pleaded with EPA to give the company time to resolve them.
However, Mr. Ali said assured the company that the suspension was not a permanent closure of the mines but would require FCMI to give EPA an action plan to ensure that it would abide with all regulations on mining.
He therefore urged the Central and Ashanti Regional Offices of the EPA to ensure that FCMI adhere to suspension of its operations.
SOURCE: ISD (Constance Adomaa Takyi)