EXTON CUBIC Group Ltd., a mining company owned by Ibrahim Mahama – the younger brother of former President John Dramani Mahama – says it is not into any illegal mining in the Tano Offin Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region as the impression is being created.
According to the company, it was only engaged in prospecting for bauxite in the area when its equipment were seized recently at Nyinahin on suspicion that it was going to engage in illegal mining.
Exton Cubic had reportedly moved heavy-duty machines into the forest reserve at Nyinahin at the beginning of the week, with intent to start exploratory activities, but was stopped by both the district and the regional authorities.
The vehicles were confiscated at a Nyinahin bauxite concession being explored by Exton Cubic Group Limited and some of the company’s officers were allegedly detained.
The company said on the day that its machines were seized by the residents of Nyinahin and the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area, Williams Darko, it was actually moving to the site to meet officials of the Minerals Commission who had gone to inspect its prospecting activities on the controversial concession.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dismissed Exton Cubic Group Limited’s claim that it has environmental permit to mine bauxite in the forest reserve.
According to the EPA, the company – with Ibrahim Mahama’s wife, Oona Maxwell; his brother, Michael Mahama as well as a certain Kweku Pobee as directors – would be acting illegally if it went ahead with its activities without recourse to the environment overseer.
Communications Officer of Exton Cubic Group Limited, Sammy Gyamfi, addressing the media yesterday to ‘set the records straight,’ said contrary to claims that the equipment were impounded in the forest reserve, they were actually seized in the centre of the Nyinahin township on the said date.
He said Exton Cubic had spent a total of $20 million on prospecting and exploratory activities in the area, and has all documentary evidence to prove that it was not doing anything illegal.
Mr Sammy Gyamfi said in 2013, the company was granted permit by the Minerals Commission to undertake due diligence in the area; on December 24, 2015, it was granted a prospecting licence and lease issued on December 29, 2016.
He said the company also has a two-year environmental permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2016 which is expected to expire in 2018, as well as permit from the Forestry Commission this year and that it was unthinkable to hear that the EPA had issued a statement in the media purporting to revoke its environmental permit when it (EPA) had not even engaged officials of the company first as professionalism requires.
Mr Sammy Gyamfi also pointed out that the Minerals Commission was fully aware of the company’s prospecting activity in the area and that the company was not mining because it knew it was not done with all the processes involved before starting to mine.
“Exton Cubic has not engaged and is not engaged in any mining activity. We want to assure the general Ghanaian public, our partners and financiers, international investors, that Exton Group is doing legitimate business in Ghana. We are not doing anything illegal,” Mr. Gyamfi said.
According to Mr. Gyamfi, since the equipment were impounded, Engineers and Planners (E&P) – also owned by Ibrahim Mahama which equipment were impounded – and Exton Cubic had been losing a whopping amount of $40,000 daily.
There are concerns that the lease issued to Exton Cubic on December 29, 2016 barely a few days for the government of Mr John Mahama to hand over power to New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) Nana Akufo-Addo, lacked parliamentary ratification.
When Mr. Gyamfi was asked whether that was the reality, he responded in the affirmative, but said it was not the responsibility of Exton Cubic, a private company, to go to parliament for ratification but rather the responsibility of the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, after all due processes had been undertaken.
He argued that the company fully understood that it could not undertake any mining activity deemed to be legal insofar as its lease had no parliamentary ratification, and so it was not mining.
BY Melvin Tarlue