Business News of 2014-01-27

President Mahama speaks on mining

Government is seeking international cooperation to help move the country from being a primary processor of mineral resources to value addition of the minerals to create job opportunities and boost earnings for the country, President John Mahama has said.

“We need to move some of that secondary processing into Ghana to create additional jobs for the young people to be able to do. We cannot continue to export gold in its raw form; we don't even refine them, we don't do polishing [and] we don’t do jewellery.

“We export bauxite in its raw form and then we import alumina to feed our aluminium smelter and then we export and re-import the aluminium to feed our industry; it just doesn't make sense,” he said.

President Mahama made this statement at the opening of the World Economic Forum session on Responsible Mineral Development Initiatives in Davos, Switzerland, aimed at helping countries develop their mineral resources in a socially and economically responsible manner.

President Mahama explained that the country can still boast its accolade as the Gold Coast, but the sector faces a few challenges such as illegal mining and foreigners taking over large land areas and mining in an environmentally unsustainable way.

Speaking on illegal foreign mining operations, the President disclosed that over 4,700 foreign illegal miners deported last year were mainly Chinese nationals arrested by the government taskforce on illegal mining.

They were accused of flouting the mining laws by engaging in small-scale mining without permits.

“Unlike the big mining companies whose operations can be monitored and regulated by state agencies, the opposite pertains with illegal mining operators. Government is determined to adopt measures to keep illegal miners at bay.”

He indicated that although the country has entered into sustainability agreements with the large mining companies operating in the sector, implementation of the agreements has faced some challenges.

For instance, he said, while the government introduced the windfall tax to ensure that the country earns benefits when gold prices go up on the international market, the companies opposed implementation of the tax.

The President said the tax had to be shelved following concerns by the companies that it could lead to a cut in jobs. “There is need for technical expertise to manage the system, with some legislation being enacted to inject sanity into the sector,” he said.

“Nothing will be left to chance in ensuring that responsible mining is practiced in Ghana,” President Mahama said.

Source: B&FT
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