The exploitation of Ahafo gold deposits led Newmont to dispossess farmers and communities from their ancestral lands. Only at the initial phase of the project, Newmont relocated 9,500 Ghanaians, mostly subsistence farmers. Yet their relocation did not imply they have access to the same means of livelihood (water resources, level of crops’ yields, fish ponds etc.), as before. Ten communities are directly affected by the Ahafo South mine: Kenyasi N.1, Kenyasi N.2, Gyedu, Ntotroso, Wamahinso, Terchire, Susuanso, Yamfo, Adrobaa and Afirisipakrom. Then, at every stage of the mine expansion, Newmont has displaced and dispossessed many locals in exchange of monetary compensation. But the amount of the compensation is not subject to negotiation, the residents have to accept the price put by the Resettlement Negotiation Committee on their land. What’s more, the multinational does not always finance resettlement.
Resettlement is only granted to the people who used to reside primarily at the property they are being dispossessed from. In 2006 Newmont enjoyed a $125 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The loan was paid back in full in 2015. To enjoy that loan, Newmont was required to improve its environmental standards and its support for the communities (for instance, funding opportunities for local women and providing HIV/AIDS education). However the programs initiated by Newmont seem to have not been enough to counteract the negative impacts the gold mine has been having on the locals’ everyday lives. The Ghanaian NGO WACAM (standing for: Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining), has been legally supporting the residents and documenting their loss of livelihoods and the worsening of their living conditions. In a report published in October 2016, WACAM stressed upon the gendered impacts of mining. Water and non-timber forest products which used to be obtained for free have now to be bought since drinking water sources have been polluted and the forest has been mined. Women are the ones traditionally providing their families with fresh water and forest products, and so their everyday is strongly affected. Additionally they represent a minority of the mine workforce (only 16%). Already in 2014, the continental network WoMin and the Ghanaian NGO Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD) had also carried on a participatory action research with the women from Ntotroso. The women from Ntotroso denounced that the compensation for land leasing was not adequate; none of that compensation was received by them, since it was paid to the men in the name of the families; and no one from Ntotroso ever received alternate lands for the lost lands. The mine brought with it the cash-based economy and resulted in a degradation of the social status of women. As a result of this research, the women of Ntotroso formulated numerous alternatives they would want for their community (see section Development of Alternatives). Facing these NGOs’ reports, NGGL also commissioned a report and it was published in August 2017. This last report highlights the efforts of Newmont to support the affected communities and reminds that Newmont established a Women’s Consultative Committee in 2008, a consultative body to ensure that women’s perspectives are taken into account when environmental and social concerns are at stake. The report also highlights the work of the Agricultural Improvement and Land Access Program (AILAP). The latter has accompanied farmers who have lost their lands and granted them new hectares to cultivate. Even though those new affected lands are further away from their homes. The report claims that 48% of the beneficiaries are women. A total of 1.701 households lost land to the mine, being 2.426 hectares.
Aside from the loss of land, the mine has polluted water resources several times. The mine processes the gold with cyanide and has caused repetitive spills, killing the fish and jeopardizing access to fresh water resources. In October 2009, thousands of dead fish were floating in a freshwater dam located near Newmont processing facility. The residents and activists from WACAM denounced a cyanide spill. Newmont called the incident as a "minor chemical overflow”. But in January 2010 the Ghanaian government fined Newmont $ 1,6 million for negligence due to the cyanide spill. Yet once again in December 2011, several thousands of fish died near the same dam. The environmental precaution that Newmont has demonstrated to be missing in its management of Ahafo deposits have raised critical preventive voices to oppose the other gold mine that Newmont is operating in Ghana, Akyem, neighbouring the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve. Additionally to the environmental degradation and the jeopardy of livelihoods, the Ahafo mine has also implied major social challenges for the surrounding communities.
The miners pay young school girls to have sex with them and teenagers have also been raped but they fear to file lawsuits. Teenagers’ (unwanted) pregnancies have increased from 170 to 180 between 2016 and 2017 and HIV number of infections has more than doubled in the same period, from 105 to 225. The local concerns with Newmont ventures embrace both protests for the closure of the mine and also claims for better financial redistribution of the mine’s revenues and local youth jobs. In August 2017, the youth from five towns (namely, Ntotoroso, Gyedu, Wamanhinso, Kenyasi No. 1 and Kenyasi No.2) marched against the neglect of the locals in hiring for better paid, permanent or more secured positions. The jobs for locals are subject of grievances since the construction phase of the mine. Prior to its settlement, Newmont promised the local residents to employ 50% of its workers from the surrounding communities. Such percentage was never achieved, and protests claiming for local jobs have been going on since 2006. In July 2006 a peaceful march in Ntotroso was violently repressed. The police and the military invaded the town and proceeded to house searches, arbitrarily beating up people on their way.
The Newmont company is famous in Latin America because of its conflicts in the Yanacocha and Conga projects in Cajamarca, Peru.