Atewa Forest bauxite mining, Ghana

Mining bauxite in Atewa Forest for aluminium making, Ghana will destroy the water source for 5 million Ghanaians, and the home of critically endangered wildlife.


Already in 2012, "prominent conservation organisations in Ghana, in solidarity and under one identity called 'Coalition of NGOs against mining in Atewa' (CONAMA), made an urgent appeal to the government of Ghana to as a matter of national heritage and the long-term interest of the people of Ghana to rescind all plans and decisions to turn the Atewa Range of Forest Reserves into a mine. They subsequently called on government to abrogate whatever prospecting and mining contracts they have entered into with Vitmeco Ghana (Bauxite) Ltd, at whatever cost it takes." (3).

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Basic Data
NameAtewa Forest bauxite mining, Ghana
ProvinceEastern Region
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Metal refineries
Specific CommoditiesTimber
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project Details"At the end of June 2017, the Republic of Ghana signed a $10 bn Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the People’s Republic of China to develop its bauxite industry. This was announced by Ghana’s Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo at the sidelines of an investor conference in London, according to Reuters." (1). The Atewa bauxite deposit is estimated at 150-200 million tonnes of bauxite which could yield 30-40 million tonnes of aluminium. The market value of Al is c $1500/tonnes.

The Government of Ghana has estimated their national bauxite reserves at 960 million tonnes and they suggest they are giving China access to c 5% which equates to c 48 million tonnes, or 9.6 million tonnes of Al.

The market value of 9.6 mt Al would be c $14,500,000,000 which is the approximate value of the stated investment from China. The cost of producing 9.6 mt of Al we estimate to be c $12,240,000,000.
Project Area (in hectares)25,000
Level of Investment (in USD)10,000,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationup to 5 million
Start Date2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Railway International Group from China - Named by the Ghana Vice President as the active party in China
Relevant government actorsThe Economic Management Team:

President of Ghana

Vice President of Ghana

Minister of Finance

Senior Minister

Governor of Bank of Ghana
International and Financial InstitutionsChina Development Bank (CDB) from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersA Rocha Ghana

A Rocha International

IUCN Netherlands

Friends of the Earth Ghana

Tropenbos Ghana

Okyeman Environmental Foundation

West African Primate Conservation Action
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Conservationist organizations.
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMining is challenged, a national park is proposed by conservationist organizations.
Development of AlternativesA Rocha, with partners IUCN Netherlands have proposed a National Park for Atewa Forest as a sustainable alternative. The Ghana Forestry Commission have been on standby to submit the proposal to the President but are now on hold because of the mining proposal.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project is in its beginning stages
Sources and Materials

Letter to the President of Ghana from the Chair of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group and the Chair of the Africa sub group
[click to view]

Details about a campaign to stop the mining
[click to view]

Economic value of Atewa Forest, report
[click to view]

The justification document for the establishment of a National Park at Atewa Forest.
[click to view]

(5) JUNE 28, 2017 . Ghana signs $10 billion MOU with China for bauxite project: Senior Minister. By Karin Strohecke, Reuters
[click to view]

Protecting Atewa Forest. Conservation of Ghana’s upland treasure. Jeremy Lindsell & Emmanuel Akom
[click to view]

(1)Ghana’s Atewa Forest: Monitoring Mining Which May Threaten Water Sources. August 14, 2017. By Christiaan Triebert. (A full report).
[click to view]

(2) Ecosystem services from Atewa forest. A summary of facts about Atewa Range Forest Reserve for educational purposes. Rufford Foundation. March, 2016
[click to view]

(3) Press Statement of Coalition of NGOs against Mining in Atewa Forests
[click to view]

(4)Ghana Signs $10 Billion Bauxite Project Agreement With China

By Ekow Dontoh. 28/6/2017.
[click to view]

Media Links

Popular song produced in Ghana by leading Ghanaian artists in praise of Atewa Forest
[click to view]

Petition to the President of Ghana to not mine Atewa but make it a National Park
[click to view]

A short film about Atewa Forest
[click to view]

A longer film about Atewa Forest
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJeremy Lindsell, A Rocha International
Last update19/02/2018