Bauxite mining would threaten birds, plants, and clean water.

A Christian conservation group is fighting the Ghana government in court over plans to mine bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest Reserve. The protected highland forest north of the capital, Accra, is home to more than 700 species of butterflies, 239 different birds, and 1,134 plants and also provides water for millions of people.

The government reportedly granted a license to the Chinese state-owned Sinohydro Corp. to mine bauxite and build a refinery for the production of aluminum to pay back a $2 billion loan for infrastructure projects across the country. Experts say the mine would be catastrophic for plants and wildlife, not to mention the climate and clean water.

“We thought that if we didn’t take this step of faith, then we would not have acted well as Christians who are stewards of God’s creation,” said Seth Appiah-Kubi, the national director of A Rocha Ghana. “We’ve done all we’ve done because we are Christians.”

A Rocha Ghana is leading the legal challenge, joined by six other civil society groups and four private citizens. The case was filed three years ago and made its way to the Accra High Court in February. The conservation group has never filed suit before.

“Even though we’ve done advocacy and campaigns as part of our work, this is the first time we’ve taken legal action,” Appiah-Kubi said. “It’s a big learning curve.”

Appiah-Kubi was the first witness when the hearing began February 6. He was cross-examined by a state lawyer for two days.

The conservation group and the other plaintiffs argue that mining the forest for bauxite would violate Ghana’s constitution, which protects citizens’ rights to a clean and healthy …

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