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Newmont's Ahafo gold mine, Ghana


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. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Newmont's Ahafo gold mine, Ghana
State or province:Brong-Ahafo Region
Location of conflict:Asutifi North district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) is a Ghanaian subsidiary wholly owned by Newmont Mining Corporation. NGGL commercially exploits the Ahafo South mine since June 2006. The life expectancy of South Ahafo mine is at least of twenty years. The mine includes four open pits: Subika (since 2006), Apensu (since 2006), Awonsu (since March 2008) and Amona (since July 2010) [1]. The Ahafo North mine ores remain under exploration. For the exploitation of Amoma pit, extending over 562 ha, 1.652 people were displaced. The company reports that its annual gold production varies between 315,000 and 345,000 ounces and it is expected to grow between to 550,000 and 600,000 by 2018. In 2016, the Ahafo Mine generated $1,03 billon and paid $78 million to the Ghanaian government ($36 million as royalties and $42 million as taxes) [2]. The Subika pit grew underground by June 2017. The underground exploitation is expected to add between 150,000 and 200,000 ounces of production annually [3]. The investment for that extension underground reaches between $300 and $380 million [4]. Besides the four open pits, the mine comprises waste rock disposal facilities, a mill and processing plant, a water storage facility and tailing storage facilities.

Project area:2,426
Level of Investment for the conflictive project200,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:50,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Newmont Mining Corporation from United States of America
Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) from Ghana
Relevant government actors:Ghanaian Government, the Environmental Protection Agency
International and Finance Institutions International Finance Corporation (of World Bank) (IFC) from United States of America
International Cyanide Management Institute - Certified the Ahafo mine in 2008, as being up to standard.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development -(ECASARD), Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, WoMin, Group for Livelihood and Environment (GLE).

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Mine tailing spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Soil erosion
Other Environmental impactsRecurrent cyanide spills, rivers and streams of Subri, Awonsu, Yaa-Chain, destroyed, drinking water that used to be free is not available anymore, locals have to pay for it, so do they have to pay for non-timber forest products that they used to get for free in the forest that has now been mined (that specially impacts women who take care of providing the families with water and forest products).
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases, Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Other Health impacts, Malnutrition
Other Health impactsSpread of HIV, tuberculosis, increase of malaria; upper respiratory tract infection, gastroenteritis and diarrhea, deaths of workers in Newmont's operations.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Specific impacts on women, Displacement, Land dispossession, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Other socio-economic impactsTeenagers raped and getting pregnant by miners, Newmont reports to have resettled 644 households since 2005, overall increase of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, school aged girls being forced into prostitution, increased food prices (reduced production of cassava, yam and plantain), youth increasing involvement in dangerous artisanal mining.


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Proposals of alternatives, gathered by WOMIN durung their action research project with the women from Ntotroso (5)
"The women of Ntotroso are appealing for the following:
• Government to make mining laws accessible to the citizens of the country, especially women;
• Rehabilitation in the form of training and investment support for alternate livelihoods for all those whose lands have been expropriated;
• Restructured compensation packages from Newmont to cover long-term losses all those affected by Newmont operations;
• Improved resettlement packages from Newmont as per the needs of those resettled;
• The inclusion of women in all mining-related negotiations between communities, government and companies;
• Appropriate regulation by government to assure that mining activities are environmentally friendly and not hazardous to people and community dwellers. Where damage is likely to be caused, the cost of such damage should be estimated and paid by companies in advance;
• Monitoring and evaluation systems should be put in place to check the activities of mining companies;
• Democratic and inclusive community involvement in the signing of memoranda of understanding;
• Education, training and employment opportunities for women and girls in mining affected communities."
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the attention this mine and its impacts have attracted and still attract, its exploitation, and the potential expansion to Ahafo North pits, proceed with the rhythm imposed by Newmont. Neither compensation nor conditions of resettlement have been renegotiated.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

State Lands Act from 1962 (amendment in 2000)

Minerals and Mining Act, 2006

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(5) Report, The Impact of Mining on Women Farmers in Ntoroso, Asunafu District, Brong Ahafo

Clash on the land - Mining destroys farming life in Ghana, Womin

Summary Ahafo South Project, August 2005

Assessing the Social and Economic Effects of Mining on Women Affected by NGGL, WACAM and Ford Foundation, October 2016

Bugri, J.T. & Kumi, S., (2018). Dynamics of community perceptions, common resources and compensation practices in mining: The case of Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd at Ahafo . International Journal of the Commons . 12 ( 1 ) , pp . 1–25 .

Review of Wacam Report" Assessing the Social and Economic Effects of Mining on Women Affected by NGGL”, August 2017

Moisés Arce, Rebecca E. Miller. 2016. Mineral Wealth and Protest in Sub-Saharan Africa

African Studies Review, 59: 3, pp. 83-105

Resettlement Action Plan, Amoma Project Ahafo, Ghana, February 2009

More teenagers getting pregnant in Amansie West, February 5th 2018

Vicious attack on peaceful protestors against Newmont in Ghana, 04/07/2006

Abuses common in Ghana gold mining - Report, 16/11/2010

Official Overview of its operations in Ahafo by Newmont

Angry youth clash with mining company, 07/06/2006

(3) Newmont Mining to build underground mine and expand Ahafo mill in Ghana, 20 April, 2017

Earhtworks, Ghana, Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve : Newmont

(1) Ghana Site visit, Newmont, March to April 2011

Newmont Ahafo Mine operations, so far so good, 23/11/2017

(4) Newmont reveals Ahafo underground mine, mill expansion plans to lift output 50%, 21/04/2017

Newmont to undertake underground mining, 30/09/2010

Women in Ghana Battle a U.S.-Owned Gold Mine for Land and Livelihood, Mining giant Newmont has been seizing farms and dumping cyanide into waterways, 14/12/2017

Newmont does not deserve excellence award -Kenyase residents, 25/02/2016

Fifteen killed in course of Newmont Ahafo Mine operations - Wacam, 08/11/2010

Newmont Mining Corporation's Ahafo Gold Mine Certified in Full Compliance Under International Cyanide Management Code, 17/07/2008

Newmont Ahafo turns over $1.03 billion in 2016, Ghana News Agency

Overview, Ahafo Mine, Newmont

(2) Newmont Ahafo mine operations, so far so good, November 23rd, 2017

Ahafo gold mine, Ghana, Newmont's return to Africa continues a long-term relationship , IFC

Newmont expands activities at Ahafo mine, 27/01/2010

Ghanaian Women Up Against U.S.-Owned Gold Mine that Destroyed Their Farms, 09/01/2018

Newmont Gold Mine to Pay Ghana Millions for Cyanide Spill, January 22, 2010

News Details, Newmont Adds Profitable Gold Production through Expansion of Ahafo in Ghana, 20/04/2017

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Report on accidents. General News of Monday, 8 November 2010. 15 killed in course of Newmont Ahafo Mine operations.

The Case of the Newmont Ahafo Goldmine in Ghana, April 2009

Meta information

Contributor:EnvJustice Team - Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3276



The Ahafo Gold mine

Source. Sierra Club

Ntotroso community

Source. WoMin, 2015

Blast loosening at Ahafo open pit,

Source. Suzy Stohr

Polluted water source by Newmont

Source. WoMin, 2015