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'Titanic' star Leonardo DiCaprio kicks against Prez. Akufo-Addo's plan to mine bauxite in Atewa forest reserve

By Mutala Yakubu
Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio
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Movie icon Leonardo DiCaprio, who is also an environmentalist dedicated to the protection and wellbeing of all earth's inhabitants, has kicked against plans by President Akufo-Addo and his government to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest reserve in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

DiCaprio who is known worldwide for his lead role in the movie 'Titanic' says the forest is at risk of extinction if it is mined.

It will be recalled that the government entered into a barter agreement – the Sinohydro deal – with Asian powerhouse, China, to mine Ghana’s bauxite in the forest reserve in exchange for $2 billion for infrastructural development in the West African country.

READ ALSO: Group petitions Parliament, wants mining activities halted in Atewa forest

DiCaprio who is an American has voiced his displeasure against the move to mine in the forest.

The forest is the source of three major rivers that provide water for five million Ghanaians. The Densu River, which flows from the Atewa Forest, feeds the Weija Reservoir that provides close to 2.5 million people in Accra with water.

It is also home to an estimated 165 million tonnes of bauxite, a sedimentary rock used to create aluminum products such as aircraft parts, kitchen utensils, and beer cans.

People enjoy the waterfalls inside the Atewa Forest Reserve in the East Akim Municipal District in Eastern Region, Ghana. (Cristina Aldehuela/AFP/Getty Images)

There were several oppositions when the government entered into the deal with China but President Akufo-Addo insists the mining of bauxite in the Atewa forest will be guided by best international practices and technology to ensure that the wildlife in the mining environment is not endangered.

What does Ghana stand to gain from the deal?

China has already released the first tranche of the $2 billion to the government of Ghana, Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia disclosed on Monday, 11 November 2019.

Apart from that, China has offered other financial support to Ghana made up of a 300-million Yuan (approximately GHS236.18/$42.79m) grant and a debt write-off of 250 million Yuan (approximately GHS196.82m/$35.66m).

READ ALSO: Atewa forest: Bauxite mining won’t harm the environment – Akufo-Addo

Despite these benefits, campaigners, water experts and environmentalists say the environmental cost will be too high for Ghana to bear.