Summer School Digs Deep into the Mining Industry

First came the hard hat, then the neon-yellow safety vest and finally the steel-toed boots. I slipped off my shoes, shoved my feet into a dusty pair double my size, fastened my vest and walked outside into the hot Ghana sun. I, along with nearly 50 members of African civil society and media, were about to embark upon a field visit of AngloGold Ashanti’s gold mine in the western region of Ghana.

The tour of Iduapriem—one of two mines in Ghana that have helped make AngloGold the third largest gold producer in the world—was part of Revenue Watch’s two-week Summer School for Anglophone Africa. Held from 16–27 July at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration in Accra, the program aims to help key players on the ground understand the issues that arise when a country decides to extract oil, gas or minerals. Representing 10 different resource-rich nations, this year’s impressive mix of activists and seasoned journalists marked the school’s broadest scope to date.

"It was a like a dream to me when I received the invite to this workshop," said Okoni Jothong, a civil society member from South Sudan. The newly formed country received 70 percent of Sudan’s oil when the two nations split in July. "Good governance is so important for South Sudan because everything is new—new country, new government, new policies."

Atop Mining Lookout
Clad in safety gear, participants identify and discuss the various stages of the mining process at a lookout point atop Iduapriem. During the first week of Summer School, representatives from Tullow Oil and Newmont Mining Corporation walked attendees through the steps of the exploration, development and production process. These courses not only helped participants understand the technical side of extraction, but also allowed them to directly engage with major international companies operating in their own countries.
 
teberebie childen
Children from Teberebie, a very poor, underdeveloped farming village directly affected by Iduapriem mine, collect water. The field visit included a stop at Teberebie to give participants an opportunity to talk with local officials and residents and experience firsthand the challenges faced by mining villages. As part of its corporate social responsibility program, AngloGold created a water filtration system to help those communities during the mining process. However, local and international human rights organizations have provided reports claiming the water is contaminated and unsafe for drinking. At the time of our visit, only one of the two spigots was working.
heavy machinery
A student inspects some of the heavy machinery on AngloGold’s grounds. Created in 2009, the Summer School’s intensive, in-depth program covers issues that are critical to the effective, responsible governance of natural resources and the revenues they generate. By learning how to dissect a mining contract or which fiscal measures can lessen the blow of volatile oil prices, participants can return home with the knowledge and the confidence to tackle the complexities of resource management.

Carolyn Bielfeldt is RWI communications coordinator.

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