Friday, 3 March 2017

Working in Partnership with Ghana

We value respect and honesty in relationships, team work and accountability. We work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery by supporting the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Golden Star supports the social and economic development of Ghana through Government payments including royalties and ground rent, direct and indirect employment generation, flow on through supply and services contracts, corporate social responsibility initiatives such as the Golden Star Development Foundation and Golden Star Oil Palm Plantation (each funded with US$1 per ounce of gold produced), and other direct mine funded initiatives.

To ensure that the contributions of the extractive sector reach the intended beneficiaries for sustainable benefits, the industry has embraced the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). 

Contributing to Ghana’s Growth

Golden Star’s annual Corporate Responsibility Reports disclose the payments we make to the Government of Ghana including royalties, fees, permit, licenses, SSNIT, value added tax, pay as you earn taxes, import duties, withholding tax and the stabilization levy. 

Augustina Yenzu, a member of the Golden Star community affairs team,
reads our Corporate Responsibility Report

In 2016 Golden Star paid over US$36 million to the Government of Ghana. For the life of our operations to date, Golden Star has paid in excess of US$324 million in Government payments.

In Ghana, the payment of royalties to the Government is distributed in a legislated way:

80% - Government Consolidated Fund 
10% - Mineral Development Fund (intended for mining community projects and to support mining sector institutions)
The Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands (OASL) receives the remainder, split amongst the following groups:
o 1% - Administrator of Stool Lands 
o 4.95% - District Assemblies where the gold was produced
o 2.25% - Stools 
o 1.8% - Traditional Councils 

Of Golden Star’s royalty payments, approximately US$1.18 million is expected to be disbursed to the OASL, Districts, Stools and Traditional Councils. Since 2011 the total amount expected to disburse from Golden Star royalty payments to these groups is in excess of US$12 million: a significant contribution to support the social and economic development of our host communities.

Leading The Way

Ghana led the way amongst African nations by being the first country to sign on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2009.  In 2016, Ghana won the Global Extractive Industry Transparency Award for strict implementation of recommendations leading to far-reaching policy, regulatory, and institutional reforms in its mining, oil and gas sectors.

The Ghana EITI (GHEITI) reports that the sector contributed to 64% of Ghana’s total export value in 2014 – a whopping US$4.3 billion; 10% of gross domestic product (GDP); and 17.5% of Government revenue!

What’s more, the latest EITI reporting shows that companies, such as Golden Star, are meeting local content and local procurement mandates.  

At Golden Star, over half of our workforce hails from our host communities, 66% are from our host region and 99% are Ghanaian.

Supporting the EITI in our Host Communities

Mr. Ben Ayree of the Ministry of Lands and
Natural Resources addresses the forum.

In February, Golden Star participated in a multi-stakeholder disclosure workshop hosted by the West Africa Governance and Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas (WAGES) project team, lead by NGOs from the World University Services of Canada.

The workshop brought together members of the District Assemblies, Traditional leaders, elected leaders, extractive companies, artisanal and small scale mining groups, NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders. The program was supported by representatives of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Finance and Ghana Revenue Authority, as well as members of the GHEITI team.

This is what participants had to say about the EITI Workshop:

Robert Gyamfi, Golden Star Resources, Community Relations & Social Responsibility Manager 

“The workshop was very revealing for me and my community participants.  It was recognized that Golden Star complies with making its royalty payments but it was suggested that the utilization of these payments by the Prestea Huni Valley District Assembly needs to be reviewed.  I am convinced that our current corporate responsibility programs together with the proposed utilization guidelines for mineral royalties will have a further positive impact on our business and in the communities in which we operate”.

Akwasi Owusu-Bi, Local Governance Specialist, WAGES

 “Working in partnership with communities, local government, mining companies, and other stakeholders, the WAGES project aims to improve local governance and maximize the socio-economic benefits from extractive resource investment in West Africa. The forum was timely as information shared engendered a conscientious effort to encourage community policing of mineral revenue disbursement.  Part of the strategy was also to develop a new type of thinking and awareness within the civil society that breeds responsible social engagements and participation of issues that results in positive developmental activities. That is the way to go.”

Godwin Amoakohene, Entrepreneurship Officer/Business Advisor, Business Advisory Centre

 “I found the forum to be very participatory and informative. Together with the community members we now have insight into the accrual system used for mineral royalty funds and how these revenues are utilised. I also now know that, besides the minerals funds, ground rent has been added to the stream of District Revenue sources.  As an Enterprise Developer, I was particularly keen to see that more of the mineral funds be used to promote Local Economic Development activities and create alternative employment opportunities in the communities. This will help alleviate pressure on the mining companies to provide employment and social amenities.”

The Future for EITI

The next phase of the roll out of the EITI requires Governments and companies to commence disclosure on beneficial ownership. The program will be a land-mark milestone in increasing transparency for reducing conflict of interest in the sector.

If you'd like to find out more about Golden Star and its approach to CSR, please visit

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Your Health Is Your Wealth

Our Commitment

Golden Star values and is committed to safety and employee well-being.
We believe that job-related injuries and illnesses are unacceptable.

In support of our commitment, we continue to improve our health and safety systems and practices, and grow our skills and capacity in support of our changing business.

So let’s take a look at a few of our key initiatives from the last quarter of 2016…

New Underground Mines

With the development and commencement of our two new underground mines, we have completed a number of projects for ‘operational readiness’, including:

updating risk registers – lists of key hazards and controls to minimize risk
job hazard analysis – teams identify hazards and controls for a task
safe work procedures –documented instructions on how to do safety critical work
mine development - actual work to install new tunnels and support the rock, provide electricity, water and air to make it safe for workers to access the ore bodies
occupational hygiene studies – monitoring of environment and hazards in the mines

Installing ground support for safe mine access using
manual and remote operated drill rig


Frank Osei Bonsu, Production Shift Boss, wearing the occupational
hygiene monitoring equipment including noise dosimeter and personal dust pump
Building Enthusiasm

Our Wassa team recently held a safety day with an inter-department first aid competition and competition for a new safety mascot.

In a hard-fought competition, including high-pressure tie-breaker, the Underground team just clinched the title from the second placed Construction Projects team. 

The Underground mine team celebrate their win
Solomon Smith from the Heavy Equipment Maintenance team won the competition for naming of the new safety mascot. ‘Ahwɛyie’ is the ‘cautious rabbit’, who considers his actions before he acts, and works safely even when no-one is watching.
Solomon Smith is congratulated by
Wassa General Manager, Gary Chapman
Solomon said:”I was very much elated and surprised when I won the competition but I was even happier when I first heard that my suggested name for the safety mascot was chosen."  

Ensuring Employee Wellbeing

Ensuring that our employees are healthy is one of Golden Star’s top priorities.  We have implemented a number of health programs inside our mines for our team as well as outside for the local communities.  Read more about our community health projects in the November blog post.

Malaria is one of the most prominent diseases in Ghana. Our malaria program includes internal residual spraying (IRS) in all company buildings and accommodation, garden management and brushing to reduce breeding sites, rapid and laboratory testing for malaria, and targeted treatment. It has led to a huge reduction in malaria cases amongst the workforce.

Following successful preventative health screening campaigns, our medical service providers now provide integrated preventative health screening for our employees for a range of different problems. Workers and site-based families can request blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index and other tests at any time, to enable improved health management.

Mine employees participate in health screening campaigns

Practice Makes Perfect

Each and every one of us wants to know that if something did go wrong in a mine that a trained and capable management team, and emergency response team, would be there to help.

At Golden Star we are no different, and like all modern miners, we conduct mock emergencies and drills to make sure all our systems and equipment are reliable, and our people know what to do.

Prestea's emergency response team preparing for a drill
In November each of our mines conducted two major mock drills. Reflecting our strong commitment to safety, operations were stopped to make the drills as realistic as possible. Our personnel, our medical services providers, and even our teams in Accra and Toronto were involved in the practice to ensure we continue to improve!

Stephen Aninoo, Mine Shaft Captain, Prestea Underground Mine

 “I am the Shaft Captain for Prestea Underground mine, where I have been working for over 35 years. In the course of my work, incidents and emergencies do occur and although I used to manage these as before, I have gained new skills through the recent emergency practice exercises.  During the drills, I had a continuous flow of information from the onset of the incident through our emergency management process. It aided me to communicate smoothly during the drill and I participated in the review session after the drills.  The drills offered multiple benefits to the safety of the mine, and looking forward, I am confident that together with my team I can better manage emergencies.” 

Recognition for Our Commitment

Golden Star continues to strengthen our safety and health systems and management. We record all injuries sustained by employees and contractors so we can learn from them in the future.

As required by law we also report on the number of injuries that prevent people from being able to do their normal work, per every million hours worked at our operations.  This is known as the lost time injury frequency rate or LTIFR. We compare our LTIFR to other companies, and as at the end of 2016 our LTIFR was 0.36 – a very good result compared to many industry peers.

In 2016 Golden Star was recognized by the Minerals Commission at their annual awards ceremony in the following categories:
Wassa placed second at the National Inter-Mines Safety and First Aid Competition,
Wassa placed second position in Best Improved Mine award, and
Sidi Adam was recognised with the first ever individual Excellence Award, for his work in supporting the Wassa team to win the three successive Safety and First Aid Competitions.

At the prestigious 2016 Ghana Mining Industry Awards, Golden Star was recognized with our Wassa operation placing as First Runner Up in the Best Performer in Occupational Health and Safety category.

Sidi accepts the award from the Paramount Chief

Sidi said: “I was overwhelmed with so much ecstasy when the long years of hard work finally paid off.  I must say this would not have been possible without the support from the management of Golden Star's Wassa mine and the tireless effort of the Wassa mine team and community teams.  I sincerely believe this is just the beginning and we will continue to fly the Golden Star flag high through this competition.” 

What Has Been the Impact?

More importantly than any competition, award or metric, we remain committed to continual improvement in safety and health, to ensure everyone goes home safely every day. In 2016 there were no fatal incidents at our operations, and we are proud of our teams for their dedication to continual improvement; however every injury is unacceptable, and so our journey must continue.

Nicolas Teiku, Chairman of Local Companies in Mining Services (LOCOMS), Prestea South Mbease Nsuta project haulage contractor

“Safety is number one when it comes to working with Golden Star and the benefits transcend the operators (drivers) of our trucks to include the truck owners and our cost of operation as haulers. Anytime I go to negotiate for trucks for haulage, I always warn the truck owners that if their operators do not obey safety rules and regulations, they should count their contract with LOCOMS terminated outright because our client Golden Star doesn’t joke with safety compliance.” 

If you'd like to find out more about Golden Star and its approach to CSR, please visit

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Water is Life

When We Arrived in Ghana

Golden Star first arrived in Ghana in 1999 and since then we have had a significant positive impact on the access to a clean water supply for our host communities.

A child drinking from one of Golden Star's boreholes
In 2000 the Ghana Statistical Service observed a major disparity between urban and rural areas in Ghana with regards to access to safe supplies of drinking water. In rural locations, just 15% of the population had access to pipe-borne water (inside or outside the home), whilst 40% relied on sources considered to be unsafe, with boreholes (27%) and wells (17%) providing the remainder.

The Importance of Safe Drinking Water

The human body requires water for sustenance and life. Unsafe water can contain chemical and biological contaminants that may result in disease and ill health. 

Globally, it is recognized that clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supplies, sanitation and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world's poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition.

What Have We Achieved?

In our 17 years in Ghana, Golden Star has funded the installation of over 200 safe water supply systems for our host communities.

These systems supply more than 25,000 households. In 2012, the Ghana Statistical Service indicated the average household size in our region to be 4.2 people, indicating that these systems may supply water to more than 100,000 people.

Before Golden Star’s involvement, most of these communities were heavily reliant on streams, often affected by illegal mining, and communities reported walking up to several kilometres a day to get water. This had a flow on effect to childhood education, as it is often the role of children in rural regions to fetch water for the family. 

What Has Been the Impact?

Our contributions have supported the work of the Government of Ghana and other private and public institutions in improving the access of communities to safe supplies of drinking water. As a result, by the 2012 Census, the number of people in the Western Region with access to pipe-borne water had doubled to 30%. In reality the impact is probably even more significant due to the increase in population during that time.

Most significantly the proportion of people relying on water supplies not considered to be safe had reduced to 16% - this is a 40% reduction compared to the situation before Golden Star's intervention!

How Do Local People Feel About It?

Nana Yaw Botwe, Odikro of Brakwaline
“The provision of potable water by Golden Star has really helped us, we used to have to walk a kilometre to the nearest stream or Mine Cottage to fetch water. Now, we have three standpipes with a continuous flow of water from the camp site. In addition, Golden Star provides maintenance support during breakdowns. I am very happy that my community enjoys adequate and good quality water”. 

Haruna Iddrissu, Assuminamu - Odumasi District Assemby School Teacher
“We are grateful to Golden Star for constructing a borehole for the school. The pupils used to have to walk 100 metres to a nearby stream to fetch water. It usually wore the children out and most did not return to school once they had gone to fetch water from the stream during break time.” 

The children of Odumasi school using their borehole

Opanin Akwasi Appiah, Odikro of Assuminamu 
“Our borehole used to be a hand dug well. There was a seasonal shortage of water and the women used to have to walk about two kilometres to fetch water from the stream until Golden Star converted it into a borehole. We have access to water all year round now." 

Opanin Akwasi Appiah using his community's borehole

Ebusuapanyin Nana Damoah, Old Subri
“With a population of about 800 people and one borehole, queuing for water became a daily struggle until another borehole was constructed. We no longer have to queue for long hours so students are able to go to school on time and there is less pressure on the boreholes. Thank you Golden Star!” 

Cynthia Duku, Women's Leader, Akyempim town
“We are more than 1,000 people in this community.  The original boreholes were insufficient to the needs of the population. Golden Star has now provided us with a mechanized borehole with standpipes at vantage points. It feels like living in an urban area now. We have access to good quality water all year round. No more queues, no more walking long distances to the fetch water. Golden Star has really helped us. We are grateful.”

Cynthia Duku collecting water from a borehole

Akyempim's water supply system, which was
installed by Golden Star

Francis Kwaw Yawson, Golden Star Water Services Officer
As I always say, “water is life”.  I have worked for the last 13 years with Golden Star as part of the team that ensures that potable water is provided to our host communities. This is done in three ways: electrical mechanized boreholes systems, manual mechanized borehole systems, and tanker service. As a unit, we go all-out to continuously improve upon the communities’ water infrastructure, increase supply and maintain the quality of the water. For example, as I ask speak now I am supervising a drilling of a new borehole at Bondaye, near our Prestea mine, to meet a larger demand. However, the maintenance of the boreholes is key to ensure a continuous supply of water, which is why my greatest satisfaction is when I have successfully trained selected members of the communities to maintain their own boreholes”. 

If you'd like to find out more about Golden Star and its approach to CSR, please visit

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Double Recognition for GSR at the Ghana Mining Awards

At the Ghana Mining Industry Awards gala on November 25, 2016, Golden Star (Bogoso/Prestea) Limited was recognized as first runner up for Corporate Social Investment Project of the Year for the company’s Prestea South Mbease Nsuta Community Benefit and Value Retention Initiative.

Golden Star team members, Mr. Robert Gyamfi, Mr. George Amankwah-Kumi, Mr. Nyanzu Agyabu and Mrs. Boatemaa Hammond, receive the award from Mr. Toni Aubynn, CEO Ghana Chamber of Mines

So what makes this project worthy of a national award?  Read on to find out...

What Does the Project Aim To Do?

The project has the objectives to:

Retain and enhance social, economic and environmental improvement benefits associated with Golden Star’s operations
Promote interest in and enhance opportunities for local residents to benefit from mine operations through the formation of new or expanded local businesses
Acquire a greater proportion of mining services supply locally through small business incubation and advisory support
Strengthen the capacity of local businesses to support a wider array of services associated with mining, and be positioned to bid for contracts elsewhere in the industry

The project initially involved programs to enhance the development of local suppliers and convert an unauthorized refuse disposal site into a community recreational park.  However it captured the community’s imagination and a number of daughter projects have evolved for even greater community benefit. 

The town of Prestea in south-western Ghana

What Benefits Does the Project Bring?

Local Value Retention

The project has generated local employment opportunities and business incubation for citizens of the mining project host communities that previously would have been filled by services providers from outside of the region.  These include:
Approximately 250 long-term unemployed youth of the locality have received employment, on-the-job training, and productive work experience through this initiative since July 2015
18 local companies are involved in the initiative, with full control of employment vested in the local companies to enable positive employment opportunity for qualified local citizens.
Golden Star supported the formation, registration and licensing with the Minerals Commission of the ‘umbrella’ company, Local Companies in Mining Services (LOCOMS), providing haulage or equipment hiring contract services
Over US$8 million has been paid to local companies since the project inception, reinvigorating the depressed local economies of Prestea and Bondaye
Local companies have gained enhanced technology and managerial knowledge, access to industry peers and competitors, knowledge on maximizing value retention, and positioning for growth and expansion outside of the locality
Flow-on benefits include work for auto-mechanics, boilermakers, food vendors, waste management contractors, banking establishments and more. In the region, flow-on has been conservatively estimated as 4 to 1, i.e. every one mining job brings 4 other jobs to the community. With the direct employment of 250 citizens, it is conceivable that 1,000 people are benefiting from this initiative

Enhanced Use of Land

The recreational park plan agreed with traditional and elected leaders will incorporate parkland, outdoor eating areas, kiosks, toilet facilities and other infrastructure to enable use of the venue by community for a wide variety of social and cultural programs.

In synergy with the company mining operations, Golden Star has completed the site rehabilitation, and the almost 5,000 residents living in direct proximity of the refuse site have benefited from a significant improvement in hygiene and sanitation. 

Not only was the site a sanitation risk, with sewage and bacteria overflowing to the Nsuo Kofi stream that runs through Prestea town and discharges to the Ankobra River, but it was also a breeding ground for disease vectors.

The conversion of the site to a community park will benefit the whole community. At present, there is not a single site available for public community recreation in the entire jurisdiction of the Prestea community, which includes some 30,000 people.

 The former refuse site (insert) and following land rehabilitation ahead of planting

Nearby local businesses have benefited from from the rehabilitation program:

The owner of a hotel that views the site had halted hotel expansion and decided to sell the expansion structure, as patronage had declined with the growth of the refuse site. With the site rehabilitation, and planned park, patronage has increased and the hotel expansion has resumed.
The Ave Marie Restaurant, overlooking the refuse site, has also experienced increased patronage. The owner has expanded the restaurant boundary and established an external eating area and garden.

Mrs Nyame of Prestea commented:

“When the Prestea South project commenced in July 2015, I secured a contract with another third party contractor as a food service provider. I currently serve an average of 30 staff per day. My restaurant used to be located close to a community refuse dump, which was poorly managed, but Golden Star is rehabilitating the land to convert it into public space. This has significantly changed the environment that I operate in and it is already having a positive impact on my business.”

Hygiene, Sanitation and Waste Management

Golden Star, traditional and elected leaders, opinion leaders and youth in Prestea came together to agree the plans for improvements in community waste management, as well as future site development.

The recreational parkland plan has received wide support and endorsement from the community
The engagements have resulted in the Community Mine Consultative Committee electing to fund, through the Golden Star (Bogoso/Prestea) Development Fund, the purchase of community waste management equipment.
A new, larger, more sustainable waste disposal location has been identified by the Prestea Huni-Valley District Assembly and community
Upgraded urban waste transfer stations have been established by the Prestea Urban Council
The general consensus is to embed the enhanced waste management services through a social enterprise-oriented, community business. Operated on a ‘pay as you throw’ or pre-paid household levy basis, it will provide a modest revenue to cover operation and maintenance. 

Economic savings are expected to be realized by the Prestea Urban Council and Prestea Huni-Valley District Assembly through reduction in recurrent expenditure in managing the former refuse site. 

Golden Star team members inspects waste management equipment purchased through the Development Foundation

As part of the value retention initiatives, a locally-owned waste management business, Passionate Community Services (PaCS), was contracted to provide door-to-door waste collection and disposal for the mining operations. 

As part of this contract, PaCS also provides community sensitization on effective and approved waste disposal practices. Education provided by the PaCS team on the use of transfer stations is gaining attention and promoting more sustainable practices. 

Mrs. Fidelia Kwapong Arthur of Prestea commented:

“With the inception of the Prestea South Nsuta Project, I have been able to secure waste collection and disposal as well as cleaning service contracts at Golden Star. I now employ a workforce of seven for both Golden Star and the community. In addition, a total of 250 households are currently registered with my company for waste collection and disposal.” 

Mrs Kwapong Arthur and her team from PaCS

Mining Project Synergies

With the completion of the rehabilitation of the former refuse site, the Prestea Government Hospital management approached Golden Star to explore opportunities to reclaim a valley stopping the expansion of the hospital, and upgrade of access-ways to the hospital. 

Golden Star, with the support of traditional leaders, was able to design an engineered backfill, which transformed the valley into usable land.  This will allow the hospital to expand and cater for the growing population. 

Golden Star team members with Mr. Felix Osei Kesse (Prestea Hospital Administrator) on the site of the reclaimed valley now affording expansion opportunity for the Hospital

Community Support for the Initiatives

A new NGO, Maintenance and Sustainability Africa (MSA), has been established by local youth in support of the refuse site clean-up and conversion to a community recreational parkland. 

Members of MSA have provided free labour (voluntary services) in support of revegetation activities at the former refuse site, grassing the 1.2 hectare area. The formation of the group and their contribution is significant: for the first time in the area, local young people have volunteered their services for the betterment of the community. 

Inspired by GSBPL’s decision to transform the refuse site into a community recreational park, the young people decided to make their own statement of support for the initiative. 

Mr. Godfred Turkson of Prestea commented:

“Maintenance and Sustainability Africa (MSA) is a youth led organization with a goal of offering sustainable solutions to the continent's development challenges. Our vision is to see an Africa where both infrastructure development and the environment are conserved. As an NGO that is focused on sustainability, we felt overwhelmed by the announcement that GSBPL is converting an illegal garbage collection site into a recreational facility for the benefit of Prestea Community. There could not be a more profound definition of sustainable development than this 360 degree turn around project, which transforms a 1.2 hectare, poorly managed, waste dumping site (a major source of pollution and diseases) into a facility that will provide refreshment and wellness to the catchment community. Therefore MSA decided to partner GSBPL to offer our quota of contribution to the project as well as to depict the great degree of improvement in the relationship between GSBPL and its catchment communities.  We say Kudos to GSBPL, as we look forward to a very successful project and to more enhanced partnerships to ensure a total development of our catchment communities and beyond.” 

Mr Turkson and the team from MSA

Monday, 31 October 2016

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

For the fourth year in succession the Golden Star Ladies Club and Golden Star Health joined forces to host a breast cancer awareness program, coinciding with International Pink Ribbon Day, to raise awareness of breast cancer prevention among Golden Star’s catchment communities. 

This year the groups' target was to bring the total number of women screened during the three year period to over 10,000...and we are pleased to report that they did it!  In just three years the program has reached more than 10,400 women and girls and potentially saved as many as 270 lives.

Volunteer Myra Quarm records risk factor information
from a participant

Educating and Building Capacity

From its humble start in 2013, the aim of the Breast Cancer Awareness Program was to bring free and confidential clinical breast cancer screening to communities that would otherwise not enjoy this service, however the program continues to increase in depth and impact each year and now has the following elements:

Screening of women and girls across all districts of the Golden Star catchment communities;
An outreach to a massive 30 communities in 2016, as well as mine site workforces, through screenings at 41 locations, including 7 junior and senior secondary schools;
Recording of risk factor information for all participants to support diagnosis, treatment and cancer research;
Provision of education materials to participants, and education posters to community health facilities;
Breast cancer awareness and self-examination talks to build capacity in the local populace; and
Participatory training and capacity building for Ghana Health Services nurses, through the involvement, coaching and mentoring of specialist breast cancer nurses from Breast Care International.

Juliet from Golden Star assists with recording
participant details
To maximize opportunities for participation, screening sessions were arranged to coincide with non-farming days or market days increasing the opportunity for rural women to attend. 

Media support from local FM radio stations, and local gongon and megaphone announcements offered continual publicity and radio discussions for a wider reach. Screening dates and venues were repeatedly announced on air, at church forums, and via community noticeboards to promote the sessions. 

What Has Been the Impact?

With over 16 screening days in October 2016 the program attracted over 4,000 women who participated in clinical breast cancer screening with trained nurses. Of these, more than 90 women were referred for further diagnoses and management. Each participant was taught how to do breast self-examination, and also received a pamphlet detailing how to perform breast self-examination. 

Golden Star's CSR team assists with registering
women for screening
The importance of this program to the Golden Star catchment communities cannot be understated. Breast cancer remains one of the leading malignancies in Ghana and is the most common form of cancer. Girls as young as 14 are recorded with breast lumps and in Ghana almost 70% of cases are identified at an advanced stage, limiting treatment options and chances for survival. 

Breast cancer risk factor data collected during the program is provided to Breast Care International (BCI), a Ghanaian breast cancer specialist NGO, for use in breast cancer treatment and research. BCI provides local community outreach to support the communities after the program by connecting women advised on referral to local networks of survivors, carers and counsellors.

Some of the poignant moments indicating how well the program is received are outlined following:

In several communities, the chief and opinion leaders warmly received the team, and thanked them for the initiative. In one community, the chief called his spokesperson in specifically to inform the community over their announcement system. In another community, people came out and waved handkerchiefs to welcome the team.
Male community members were frequently spotted in communities walking their female colleagues to the screening centers to take part. 
Individual participants who had been screened went away only to return with their friends and relations to ensure that they also took part. 
Those who knew a little more about breast cancer shared their personal experiences with hope to inspire and encourage those women who were skeptical about breast cancer or hesitant about attending. One of the Golden Star young women surprised onlookers by talking about her experience with breast lumps in her 20’s.
The local nurses who took part in the training said their confidence in the service has improved through the exercise. Following the capacity building training in 2015 with the Breast Care International nurses, in 2016 the program was run entirely by local community nurses from Ghana Health Services.
One young man at a Golden Star mine-site donated half his month’s wage to the program. Other men, now so inspired by the women’s program are talking about men’s cancers and raising awareness.
At the secondary schools male and female students participated in education and awareness. The importance of men supporting and encouraging screening is critical to breaking-down taboos and mythologies associated with breast cancer.

Women waiting for screening

Prevention is Better Than Cure!

What does the program mean to its participants and supporters?

Bridget Acquah, Bogoso Health Centre, Enrolled Nurse

"This breast cancer screening program has really helped the communities around and within the catchment areas of Golden Star indeed. It has helped in creating awareness on breast cancer as well as educating local people on self-examination and seeking early care. Though some might find it challenging due to monetary issues, we are all the same grateful for your thought and care for women and the communities as a whole. Thank you."

Myra Quarm, former Golden Star employee and breast cancer program volunteer

"This is a rare platform that has been undertaken by Golden Star for empowering women in the catchment communities through awareness creation and early detection. My encounter with the program has broadened my personal experience and knowledge. It has indeed given me a sense of fulfillment in knowing that we are given the opportunity to engage with people who have little to no knowledge on breast cancer to share education and awareness with them."

George Amankwah-Kumi, Golden Star Group and Community Health Coordinator

"I feel strongly about the importance of this program to our communities. This year a young girl, just 15 years of age, was found with a large breast lump. During the program period I received notification from Breast Care International’s Peace and Love Hospital that she had attended for treatment. I am aware through the local Ghana Health Services nurses that others have also reported following referral."

Philipa Varris, Golden Star Vice President – Corporate Responsibility

"It makes me feel such happiness when I see the way the team is received in communities. The young women sit captivated by the words of the nurses and the more mature ladies crack jok
es to encourage the fun. At one location I attended, the young ladies had many questions about breast cancer and breast feeding. When the questions subsided, an older lady joked “How do I stop the men from biting my nipples?” The group was in gales of laughter. We saw 116 women in that small, isolated community. The older lady shook my hand with energy and expressed her gratitude. Despite the hard work of the month-long program, these are the moments that remind me of the importance of what we are doing."

If you'd like to find out more about Golden Star and its approach to CSR, please visit

Monday, 3 October 2016

Happy Birthday GSOPP!

This month we are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Golden Star Oil Plantation, or GSOPP, as it is known locally. Arguably one of Golden Star’s most well-known community development initiatives, the multi-award winning social enterprise initiative is coming of age!

In this post we will explain the background of GSOPP, meet some of the key collaborators behind the enterprise concept, including those who molded its development along the way, and give you the opportunity to hear the stories of the small-holder farmers, plantation workers, and other local community members benefiting from this large scale, not-for-profit business.

Introducing GSOPP

The Golden Star Oil Palm Plantation was established in April 2006 as a non-profit subsidiary of Golden Star Resources. GSOPP, in partnership with the Traditional Authorities, affected farmers, and the agro-forestry industry, promotes the development of oil palm plantations amongst our catchment communities, using the smallholder concept.

Funded by Golden Star through US$1 per ounce of gold produced, to date we have directed over $5.3 million to this important initiative. Through GSOPP, we continue to advance the Company’s objectives of reducing poverty through employment generation, and promoting wealth creation through sustainable agri-business. 

So how does GSOPP work?

GSOPP has developed a unique approach to land acquisition. Through extensive community engagement and consultations, GSOPP solicits lands from the local chiefs and landlords, who benefit directly from the oil palm cultivation in return. This is a form of partnership arrangement which promotes more productive use of the land, resulting in long-term employment and income generation in the catchment area. To date, approximately 6,700 hectares of land have been pledged by the chiefs for oil palm development.

It takes 4 years of development under the direct management of GSOPP before the plantation reaches income level.  Each selected farmer is then given a 4 hectare plot to maintain as their own. GSOPP continues to provide support, management and agricultural extension expertise to the farmers and the farmers receive an interest free loan to develop their plantation. The selection of beneficiary farmers is based on impact and resident status within the host community. To date, 305 smallholder farmers have been fully inducted into the GSOPP scheme. 

Tenancy agreements are then established with the selected farmers, incorporating loan re-payment, obligations for maintenance, harvesting and sale of farm proceeds. The interest-free loan repayments are directed back into GSOPP for the continued operation and expansion of the program.

With this concept of partnership, the major issues confronting land tenure associated with large scale agricultural developments are minimized to a greater extent.

What has been the impact?

As well as the 305 small-holder farmers, GSOPP employs 350 contract workers each year.  Of the 6,700 hectares of land pledged by local chiefs, 920 hectares of plantation has been established so far in six host communities, and an additional 133 hectares of scheme out-grower oil palm plantation has been established on individual land holdings.

The first oil palm fruit was produced in 2010, which was harvested from the initial 2006 plantings.  In that first year, GSOPP produced a modest 529 tonnes, but by 2015, production had increased over 20-fold to 11,270 tonnes.  Since 2010, a total of 36,000 tonnes of oil palm fruit have been produced and sold.  With much of the plantations having reached fruiting maturity, fruit production in 2015 had increased by 46% on 2014, providing a good income to the smallholder farmers.

In the context of Ghana as a whole, what do these metrics mean? At GSOPP we are achieving a smallholder plantation yield of 18 tonnes of oil palm fruit per hectare, compared to a national average of just 6 tonnes per hectare. This is three times the national average for smallholders and these significant achievements are attributed to the application of best agronomic and management practices by GSOPP. But don’t take our word for it, here is the view of some GSOPP participants…

Daniel Kwaw Wiredu, GSOPP Farmers Association Chairman

"This sustainable initiative initiative by Golden Star Resources has been very beneficial to us. We receive a reliable income every month and that has transformed our lives and our standard of living. We are able to finance our children’s education to the tertiary level.
"Before GSOPP, most of these farmers were living in mud houses and now they are able to afford concrete block houses. We have a better way of living and have brought joy to our families.

"Formerly, everyone looked to Golden Star for direct employment but as farmers, we didn’t have the skills to work on a mine. With the GSOPP project, we are each given 4 hectares of a well-managed oil palm plantation and we are self-sufficient. Some of the youth in this community who used to undertake unsafe illegal mining have also been employed as field workers by the project.
We are very grateful to Golden Star for bringing this sustainable livelihood project into our lives."

Beatrice Amenu, contract worker

"I am a resident from the Bogoso community, close to Golden Star’s Bogoso/Prestea mine, and I have been a GSOPP field worker for the past four years.  I receive wages every month and as a single parent, I am able to support my family and save some money for the future. I take care of my child myself and pay his school fees.

"Through my little savings, I have built a one bedroom house and also a small kiosk where I do small-scale trading after work. My livelihood has been transformed and now I don’t depend on anyone.

On behalf of all the field workers, I say well done to Golden Star."

Gaining recognition

In 2008 Golden Star was awarded the prestigious Nedbank Capital Green Mining Award in recognition of the creation of and continuing efforts of GSOPP.  Golden Star was the first non-South African company to receive a Nedbank Capital Green Mining award in any category.

GSOPP continues to go from strength to strength and as part of the 30th National Farmers’ Day celebrations, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture awarded the Golden Star Farmers’ Association (Bogoso branch) the Best Farm-Based Organization Award for the District. At the same award ceremony, a GSOPP participant farmer, Mr. Tuffour Quaicoe, was named the Best Oil Palm Farmer. 

Mr. Tuffour Quaicoe, award-winning smallholder farmer

"I am a beneficiary of a 4 hectare palm plantation under the GSOPP project. For the past four years, I have received a monthly income and that is what I depend on to support my family. All my three children are in school and I have also been able to empower my wife in small-scale trading. I used to live in a rented house, which cost me a lot of money because we live in a mining community and demand is high, but recently I have been able to build a house for my family.

"I was farming before I became GSOPP farmer but I was not making a meaningful income.  The GSOPP management team has taught us the best agronomic way of farming to increase productivity. In 2014, I was named the Districts’ Best Oil Palm Farmer during the nationwide farmer award celebration. In 2015 I had an average yield of 23 tonnes per hectare from my farm, bringing my total yield to 69 tonnes of oil palm fruit from my 4 hectare farm. The tremendous yield and the income I am getting have significantly raised my social status. I commend Golden Star for bringing light into my life."

From little things, big things grow…

Golden Star identified oil palm cultivation as a leading sustainable economic venture within its areas of operation, as part of its Alternative Livelihood Program. Back in 2006 when it was founded, the Government of Ghana had a policy to encourage mining companies to establish alternative livelihood programs to ensure restoration of natural resources and enhance socio-economic conditions during the lives of their mining operations and once they had finished production. 

A study by the Oil Palm Research Institute confirmed the suitability of the area for oil palm production - our operations are situated in what is known as the oil palm belt of West Africa – and as a result, a Memorandum of Understanding was executed between GSOPP, the Traditional leaders and Benso Oil Palm Plantation Limited (BOPP) in 2006, in which the parties agreed to collaborate in establishing a smallholder oil palm plantation to benefit community members.

Under the MOU, BOPP provided technical and advisory services to GSOPP to ensure the successful implementation of the scheme.  BOPP also purchases the oil palm fruit and it will continue to do so until GSOPP is in a position to establish its own plant for downstream processing.

Mr. Sam Agyemang, former Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Project Manager for Golden Star Resources

"When I look at what started in the first year with just 5 beneficia

ry out-growers, then 30, then 100 and now over 300 beneficiary out-growers, the rapid growth and transformation of this limited liability plantation for farmers of the catchment, it pleases my heart. 

"I am overjoyed about the fact that GSOPP has remained true to its original goal of serving as alternative source of livelihood for Golden Star Resources’ catchment communities whilst also generating social peace in the local areas.

"What I hope to see is for GSOPP to move to the phase of processing the oil palm fruit within the catchment communities to add value and allow the processing employees and farmers to see additional benefits." 

The future and sustainability

When conceptualized, the establishment of GSOPP and maintenance of the project to maturity was identified as the first stage of implementation. Key aspects of the project’s sustainability have included:
  • Regular capacity development and technical training for farmers
  • Routine communications and engagement on progress against annual action plans
  • Agricultural extension support provided by BOPP and Solidaridad West Africa
  • Conduct of a poverty impact assessment and baseline study for the project with the technical expertise of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Further support of GIZ in agricultural capacity development, and support in the establishment of farmer business schools (covering aspects such as savings and pension planning and other financial management skills development)
  • GSOPP is undertaking the process of gaining certification for good plantation management by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Having largely established a sustainable plantation business, at the 10th anniversary of GSOPP we are now focused on future organic growth and the evolution of GSOPP to incorporate down-stream processing through the establishment of a milling facility. As these plans evolve we expect to see on-going benefits flowing from this important social enterprise endeavor as we remain focused on our objectives for poverty reduction through employment generation and promotion of wealth creation through sustainable agri-business.

Peter Addai, GSOPP Operations Superintendent:

"From its humble beginning in 2006 to the present day, over the past 10 years GSOPP indeed has a story to tell. Although GSOPP is still on the path to attaining its full goal, I am overwhelmed by the achievement so far. GSOPP remains a significant flagship livelihood program for Golden Star and indeed the mining industry. The immense socio-economic impact the project has brought into the lives of the people within the catchment area and beyond cannot be overemphasized. The remarkable investment of $5.6m by Golden Star makes GSOPP a livelihood project the communities can rely on now and after the mines eventually finish production.  We are now in the process of securing a processing plant to ensure GSOPP can attain its full potential in the coming years."

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