He revealed further that when they received the ESHIA report for the company upon completing its assessment process, they had of serious Human Right challenges issued raised by the community where the company was to commence its operations.
For this reason he went on they had to stop the process so as to thoroughly look into the community members concerns that by then resulted to houses being burnt and people arrested.
“We have nothing against Wilkinson Hill Mining, we are a just regulatory body that provides leadership to all companies. We had to ensure that due diligent is followed”. He said.
He assured this medium that they are going to ensure Wilkinson Hill Mining abides by law or their operations be suspended.
Turay expressed frustration and disappointment as to how Wilkinson Hill Mining acquired a Small Scale Mining License without an EIA License. He said EPA is an Agency established by law, whilst reassuring that the Agency will ensure it follows the due process of the law until Wilkinson Hill Mining abides to the procedures laid down in the Environment Protection Agency Act of 2008.
Responding, Admin and Finance Manager of Wilkinson Hill Mining, Mohamed Sultan Daffae explained that EPA acted with malice and unprofessionally by issuing a Public Notice without their knowledge.
He said: “We are a very law abiding company and knows the importance of protecting the environment without any hindrance to the community and the people. To show that we are very law abiding, we followed the procedures set out in the Environment Protection Agency Act of 2008 in acquiring an Environmental Impact Assessment License.”
According to Mr. Daffae, Wilkinson Hill Mining did not in any way violate the Sections referred to by the EPA, citing part XI, Sections 95 and 96 of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009. He said the aforesaid sections gave the absolute mandate to the Minister of Mines and Minerals Resources to grant a Mining License upon recommendation of the Minerals Advisory Board.
He stressed that EPA failed to grant EIA License to Wilkinson Hill Mining Company despite the application and the Public Disclosures held and commended by the EPA Officials who monitored the process in Kamakwie and Kathanta village.
“Applying for an EIA License meant we recognize the relevance of EPA,” said Daffae, adding; “we went ahead to attend meetings with EPA and contracted a consulting company to prepare our ESIA report which was submitted to the Agency. Why EPA Management refused to give us the license when we have fulfilled all requirements in the Act?”
He said they did not make any hell out of the failure of EPA to grant them an EIA license. He assured that they are readily available to receive the license from the Agency in order to achieve a good working relationship.
He recalled that EPA similarly issued a Press Release purporting that they have suspended AMR Gold for failing to apply for the EIA License. That action, according to Daffae, was not welcomed by the National Minerals Agency, which made them to call a press conference on the agency’s position. He clarified that NMA said it was a wrong action and one that undermines the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Resources. He questioned such unprofessional act by certain people in the agency.