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The National Coalition on Mining (NCOM), founded in November 2001, is a grouping of Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Communities Affected by Mining, NGOs, and individuals engaged in mining/extractive sector advocacy for environmental sustainability, human rights, and integrated national development. It started with four organizations facilitated by Third World Network Africa in response to specific environmental and social problems arising from cyanide spillage of a gold mining company into a major stream that services downstream communities in Tarkwa.

So far the membership spans through all major mining concessions in Ghana and 15 other organizations working in areas of policy, gender, the environment, legal and human rights, and economic justice. NCOM is the only such coalition so far with national scope focusing on mining.

NCOM seeks to:

• Create platforms which promote strategies for policy dialogue with state institutions and mining companies from the adoption of mining sector policy frameworks, as well as state and corporate practices and behaviour that promote and ensure community interest, environmental sustainability and equitable national economic development

• Help the self organization and mobilization of community groupings affected by mining activities.

• Build solidarity and information sharing among participating members and their partners.

• Promote and enable the visibility and voice of community groups and NGOs around mining and its relationship to human rights, community interest, the environment and development at the national and local levels.

Some Results

The National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) which started with four organizations in 2001, has progressively grown in membership. This growth has come with recognition by mining companies and state bodies. For instance, in matters of decision-making around mining NCOM is now recognized as a parallel body to the Ghana Chamber of Mines that has to be consulted. This is an entirely a novel in the mining sector as the Chamber of Mines has been the only non-state actors in partnership with the state to make mining policies since pre-independence. This monopoly has been broken through years of collaborative mobilization and organization. NCOM has also been very successful at:

a. Maintaining an essential link between NGOs and communities affected by mining

b. Presenting common positions to government and the mining industry on policy as well as State and corporate practice towards affected communities.  

The Coalition was successful in resisting a proposed policy to expand surface gold mining in the country’s dwindling forest reserves. In 2001-2003, the Coalition campaign to prevent surface mining in forest reserves resulted in drastic reduction of the number of companies applying to mine in forest reserves from 17 to 5. It also led to a decision by the government to reduce the size of forest reserves affected by mining from 2% of Ghana’s productive forest reserve to 0.01%. It has also raised the profile of human rights violations in mining through the media, targeted meetings with officials, and filing of complaints to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, The Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, the Ministry of Interior, and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. This strategy has contributed in a large measure to important outcomes. First, The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice carried out a systemic nation-wide investigation into the social and economic rights of mining communities. A report to that effect has been published in 2008.

Second, the number of military personnel policing various mining concessions has been reduced as some of the military have been withdrawn from some concessions. In 2005, the Coalition led a campaign to influence significant changes to the mining bill before it became a law in 2006. The significant changes reflected community concerns, in particular compensation issues, early notification, among others. The Coalition is also up-scaling its campaigns at the continental level through the Africa Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society (AIMES).

Third World Network-Africa is the secretariat of the Coalition and is responsible for:

• Coordinating implementation of collective decisions

• Working with participating members to provide agenda issues and campaign platforms

• Facilitating the strategic direction of the coalition through information flows and organising meetings

• Accounting for any NCOM joint funds to its members

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