Make mining an agent for development -Veep
Mining companies have been charged to align their operations with the sustainable development aspirations of society, and to integrate all aspects of economic, social and environmental benefits and impacts during and beyond all phases of their operations.
This was contained in a speech read on behalf of Vice President John Mahama by Mike Hammah, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, in Accra, at the first quarterly forum to open up the mining sector to the general public.
The event, which was organised by the Ghana Chamber of Mines, was under the theme, “Mining for development: The role of stakeholders.”
Mr. Mahama noted that despite the fact that mining had the ability to unlock significant socio-economic benefits to reduce poverty and support progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, the sector had lived short of this expectation, mainly due to poor management and regulation.
He noted, for example, that in the last decade, gold prices had seen significant increases, but this notwithstanding, it had not reflected in a commensurate impact in the lives of the communities, and by extension, the country.
To this effect, he said, the government had a well-thought out plan, aimed at ensuring that a more enabling environment is created for all stakeholders in the sector.
Additionally, the government was putting in place a number of regulations, including provisions for the implementation of Local Content, which had been drafted and was presently before Parliament, to give full effect to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), when passed .
“Furthermore, to ensure that the industry contributes more significantly to the development of the country, the government is putting measures in place for the rehabilitation of roads and railway lines.”
To this effect, the Vice President said the government had recently secured a Chinese Development Bank facility for infrastructural development, of which a component of US$500 million had been earmarked for the complete rehabilitation of key rail lines in the country.
He also mentioned other interventions such as the Minerals Development Fund Bill, which would be instituted by the government to boost infrastructural development in the mining communities.
“The Bill would make room for the establishment of a Mining Community Development Scheme, into which proceeds from royalty payments and development funds of mining companies, as well as other relevant sources, would be paid,” he explained.
He, however, applauded the Chamber of Mines for its contribution towards the development of the sector, but further charged it to ensure that companies adopt more responsible mining practices to minimise its adverse impact on the environment.
The Chief Executive of the Chamber, Dr. Toni Aubynn, however, outlined the important roles mining had played in the development of the country, more especially, as a strong driving force for much of her economic development since colonial times.
He said some studies had shown an uncanny linkage between mining and development, because as prices of mineral commodities do well, the economy also does well, and this, he said, was reflected in the payment of corporate taxes and royalties which are often used for developmental projects and initiatives.
Currently, the industry accounts for over 7% of the country’s GDP, while mineral exports make up 41% of total exports. Export earnings from minerals average 35%, making the sector one of the largest contributors to government revenue.
These, notwithstanding, Mr. Toni Aubynn was of the view that “mining can still be made meaningful to society than it is today.”
He said “the reason why there are still negative perceptions about mining is that people do not see adequate meaning of mining. In other words, mining has not become meaningful to them.”
He, however, called for a multi-stakeholder approach to ensuring that mining serves as a catalyst for development.
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