Starr News has uncovered two conflicting permits said to have been issued from the headquarters of Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to favour a Chinese mining company against a Ghanaian mining firm.
Some staff at the EPA headquarters confirm that the Ghanaian company— Yenyeya Mining Enterprise— had received from the agency a permit that is scheduled to expire on March 18, 2022. That permit, issued on March 19, 2020, was signed by the agency’s Deputy Executive Director/Technical, Ebenezer Appiah-Sarpong, on behalf of the EPA’s Acting Executive Director at the time, John A. Pwamang.
But another permit, meant for the very same Yenyeya Mining Enterprise and bearing the signature of Mr Pwamang as the agency’s Acting Executive Director, also has emerged and it is in conflict with the first one. The second permit is bearing a different signature and has March 13, 2020, as issuance date and September 12, 2021, as expiry date.
The EPA staff further revealed that a request was made for the permit to be reviewed in favour of the Chinese-owned Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd, now referred to as Earl International Group [GH] Gold Ltd, to get the permit reviewed against Yenyeya Mining Enterprise.
Reason behind the fraudulent permit review
The Yenyeya Mining Enterprise, owned by Charles Taleog Ndanbon, operates on a small scale at Gbane in Talensi, a district in the Upper East Region.
The local enterprise invited the Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd (Earl International) to Ghana in 2008 to be its technical-support partner in that community.
After working with its host for more than a decade marked by episodic mining accidents, the Chinese company announced a plan recently to set its foot into a large-scale mining business. That announcement triggered internal unease along the business partnership cord as reports also emerged that the Chinese company, having found a ‘foothold’ considered as strong enough to secure its independence from its host partner in the community, had resolved upon ditching the same local partner that brought it to the mineral-rich district for a ‘joint dinner‘.
The host is not only upset for being dropped behind by its invitee; it is even more troubled because another sad news being told everywhere is that the Chinese company has gone miles ahead on another move to take over the concession of its host in its bid to acquire more space in the district for the intended large-scale mining business.
Sources say the Managing Director of the Chinese company, Xing Wei, cannot wait to see Shaanxi (Earl International) take over as many acres as are needed for the intended large-scale mining production to commence this year. The sources attribute the double-dealing twist at the EPA headquarters— the backward review of the expiry date on Yenyeya Mining Enterprise’s permit to make the document expire a year before its correct time— to the aspiration of the Chinese company to also claim Yenyeya’s concession not later than this year (2021).
They say Mr Wei wants the Yenyeya Mining Enterprise, which probably is unaware of the unfavourable changes made on its permit at the EPA headquarters, to be taken by surprise and, before it knows it, its concession has been ‘legitimately’ added to Earl’s (or Shaanxi’s) large-scale licence area under the excuse of Yenyeya’s failure to renew its permit upon expiry.
EOCO asked to look into EPA’s double-permit scandal
Starr News learns those behind the double-permit dealing at the EPA headquarters have been under intense pressure because the job for which thousands of dollars allegedly were paid against Yenyeya has not been completed.
The cash purportedly was paid for Yenyeya’s permit to be reviewed in the interest of Shaanxi (Earl International) and for the EPA to issue the Chinese company a permit to commence its large-scale operation in 2021.
But whilst the alleged fraudulent review has been done against Yenyeya, the sought large-scale permit has not been issued to Shaanxi (Earl International) up to the present time.
Meanwhile, some EPA staff at the agency’s headquarters have called on Ghana’s Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to launch a probe into the double-permit scandal at the EPA head office.
“We think everybody whose signatures have appeared on the inconsistent permits should be invited for thorough interrogations. There are witnesses who we think should also be called to volunteer useful details to deal with those involved.
“It is simple. Those involved should go and explain before EOCO how come EPA gave out two permits to just one enterprise with two different signatures. You would be shocked at what we believe EOCO definitely will bring out from this matter. This is something we think should not be swept under the carpet,” an official at EPA told Starr News.
Send your news stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and via WhatsApp on +233 266777777