By Frederick E. Aggrey
The Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Mine Workers Union, (GMWU), Abdul Moomin Gbana, has called on the government and policy makers to make it one of their priorities that Ghana gets a mining company of its own.
He said the time has come for Ghana to own its own mining company to extract minerals and to add value to it, where necessary, to ensure that our natural resources inure to our benefits.
He said Ghana has been engaged in mining for ages without seeing any significant contribution to the development of the country.
According to him, mineral resources deplete as they are being mined, and it presents a challenge for the country to find innovative ways of benefiting from it whilst it lasts. He further stated that Ghana has the local capacity to engage in large scale mining without necessarily bringing in foreigners, who come to deplete our resources for next-to-nothing in return.
He was speaking on a stakeholders’ forum on the Development and Tax Concession Agreements between the Government of Ghana and AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) Limited, which is currently before Parliament for ratification
He lamented over the nature of poverty in the mining communities, especially Obuasi, in spite of all the money being made there. He revealed that AngloGold had made over $39 billion since the beginning of its operations at Obuasi, but the town looks a pale shadow of itself today.
He said that the communities in the catchment areas of AngloGold do not have a say in the administration of the community fund established under the mining legal regime to facilitate development of mining communities, as should have been the case.
He further stated that some of the major mining companies are introducing merchandised mining into their operations, which means that less people would be employed, and even most of those already employed would be laid off.
He said that Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is about decent works for all, and the government must ensure this in the industry. He decried the level of treatment the few employed by these mining companies go through, adding that now contract and casual employment is gradually taking over decent secured work in Ghana.
He called on the government to interrogate the procurement regime of AngloGold under the Agreement, in order to secure local entrepreneurs. He added that sustainable mining should ensure that our mineral resources are not mined in such a way to deplete our natural resources, adding that there should be deliberate and conscious efforts to curb this.
He further advised the government to demand a plan from AngloGold, under the agreement, in relation to how they intend to ensure participatory development, with a bottom to top approach. He said further that the above phenomena justifies the fact that the time to have our own national mining company is long overdue, and called on the government to provide same.