Mining companies operating in Ghana and have continually recorded red ratings since the inception of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPAs) "Akoben" Rating and Disclosure will be punished.
The Executive Director of EPA, Mr. Daniel Amlalo disclosed at the 2012 public disclosure for the environment performance rating and disclosure, "Akoben", in Accra.
Although he did not mention the names of mining firms which have consistently been recording red under the "Akoben" ratings, depicting poor environmental performance, Mr. Amlalo stated: "Sanctions are coming up for consistently red "Akoben" scorers since its inception in 2010".
The Akoben ratings assessed the environmental performance of large scale mining and manufacturing firms operating in the country under a five-colour rating scheme.
The colours are Gold, which stands for excellent performance, Green for very good performance, Blue for good, Orange for satisfactory and Red for poor performance.
According to him, 16 companies were involved in the rating programme for year 2012 and all but two of them performed excellently under their corporate social responsibilities, while a good number of them performed very well toward their responsiveness to public complaints.
Also, majority of the companies performed satisfactory in handling environmental best practices, however, seven out of them had issues with legalities and regulations thus rating them red or poor performers in the final rating, Mr. Amlalo indicated.
The ratings have generally improved upon mining firms' operations as to their adherence to the mining laws, as well as, in their obligations towards society in the form of corporate social responsibilities, Mr. Amlalo told the participants at a well-attended forum.
Since the ratings' establishment, it is annually disclosed to the public and the media with the aim of strengthening public awareness, transparency and participation on issues concerning mining.
In a bid to improve the "Akoben" ratings, the EPA is in collaboration with the Minerals Commission to design a programme to cater for small scale miners, he revealed.
The EPA boss, therefore, admonished mining companies to endeavour to attain zero tolerance for toxic waste releases into the environment by putting up measures to properly manage their toxics.
A Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Mrs. Benice Heloo, in a speech read for her announced plans were at foot to institute "Akoben" environmental trophy to award companies on the World Environmental Day.
Dr. Heloo said EPA had already started some discussions on how to apply the rating system to the built-environment clean cities programme, climate management and forestry, saying :"In the coming years, we will see the Akoben programme establish deep institutional roots at the national, regional and local levels". The Head of Mining Department of EPA, Mr. Ransford Sekyi, indicated that the Akoben system was a regulatory management tool that would help bring sanity in the mining operations.
It also involved hard data, analytical results and visual evidence of activities and performances of companies which were also devoid of biases.
Some of the managers of the participating companies told the Business Chronicle that they were happy with the ratings.