Our attention has been drawn to the above article written by one Tabora Bojang. We are dismayed at the content of this article which contains certain inaccuracies which we believe could have been avoided if we had been contacted prior to the publication of this story.
1. Your article states that “the director of Parks and Wildlife, Momodou Lamin Kassama, has disclosed that his office signed an MOU with GACH Global to pay Compensation for the environmental damages related to its mining operations in the Tanji bird reserve in Brufut”
i. In response to this we wish to correct that GACH Global is not the entity engaged in mining activities in the coastal areas of The Gambia. Mining activities are being carried out by GACH Mining Company Limited which is a completely different entity from GACH Global.
ii. Furthermore, there was no agreement to pay compensation. As part of our mining license we are required to rehabilitate our mining sites and restore them to their previous condition. In the case of Brufut we did not carry out mining but rather reprocessing of a stockpile of Mineral sands that had been deposited at Brufut during previous mining operations in the 1960s and re-processed by Carnegie Minerals in the early 2000s. It is important to note that although this site falls on the fringe areas of the reserve area, it is and has been a mineral sand stockpile deposit site for the past 50 years.
iii. A detailed Environmental Impact Assessment was prepared and a key part of our Environmental Management Plan was for the reforestation of the Brufut Stockpile with indigenous species of trees, after the physical rehabilitation of the site. Given their expertise in this area, we had fruitful engagements with the Department of Parks and Wildlife and entered into an MOU to finance to the reforestation of close to 1500 trees of various species as well as the posting of
staff on the ground to tend to these trees at a cost of GMD1,500,000 This was all agreed prior to the commencement of the reprocessing activity and advance of 50% amounting to GMD750,000 was paid. The balance is due to be paid upon commencement of the reforestation activity.
iv. We completed the reprocessing activity earlier this year and completed the physical rehabilitation of the site through backfilling and contouring of the sand dune. With that out of the way the Department of Parks and Wildlife will proceed with the reforestation exercise.
v. It is important to therefore note that the sums in question are not meant to “compensate” for damage to the Tanji Bird reserve but for reforestation efforts as part of our plans for rehabilitation of the site to an even better and greener state than it was prior to the commencement of our activity.
2. The article further stated that “The company has temporarily ceased operations following a stop notice issued by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.”
i. This is inaccurate as the Company had completed all activities on that site and completed backfilling early this year. The stop notice referred to in your article was a general stop notice issued to a number of mining companies particularly mining companies engaged in construction sand mining on the coastal areas.
ii. Furthermore, it is important to note that by the time that notice was issued there was no ongoing activity at the Brufut Site. The company has a great working relationship with the community and regulatory authorities who are aware of the completion of activities on the site.
We note that the final paragraph of the article seems to paint an accurate picture of the facts however the heading and first paragraph of the article seem to be at variance. As a company, we are committed to the preservation of the environment and at all times strive to ensure that upon completion of activity mining sites are fully rehabilitated.
We wish to stress the importance of reaching out to all parties involved for their side of the story prior to going to press. I cannot underscore the damage that could be caused to companies such as ours as well as the risk of causing civic disaffection. We remain always available to be contacted on stories that involve us and will very much appreciate your prompt corrigendum of the captioned article.
CEO, GACH Mining.