Business News of 2014-01-30

Mineworkers want 20% of gold processed

Mineworkers, who are threatened with job losses after the industry entered the doldrums in 2013, want legislation to require at least 20 percent of Ghana’s gold to be processed in-country to brighten the industry’s prospects.

Prince William Ankrah, General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU), said in a statement the union welcomes attempt by President John Mahama to seek international cooperation in moving the mining sector from a primary producer of mineral resources to secondary-stage production.

“The union agrees with the President that over-reliance on primary production over the years has denied the country the expected benefits from mining,” he said, adding that best practice in places like Bostwana has demonstrated that maximum returns from mining can be had through “beneficiation”, the industry term for in-country value-addition.

He added that having an aluminum smelting factory for bauxite will also be of great benefit to the country in terms of revenue enhancement. The same can apply for the diamond sub-sector in Akwatia as well as iron-ore in the Oppong valley, which is yet to be tapped in commercial quantities, he stated.

These will provide job openings that are in short supply while boosting economic activities in host communities, the statement emphasised.

The GMWU urged governments across the continent to take bold positions on the issue of mining investments and go in for a balanced deal, especially with multinational companies.

He said countries should learn from Botswana, where during the renewal of a contract with diamond producer De Beers, the government was able to prevail on the miner to bring back a diamond-cutting job it took to London. “The company had no option than to respond to the decision in order to create the right commercial chemistry between the parties,” he said.

Touching on the issue of illegal small-scale mining, Prince Ankrah said though it is an opportunity for Ghanaians with a passion for mining professionally to do so at lower cost without degrading the environment, the current situation cannot be justified on the basis that there are no jobs in the system.

He therefore urged the anti-illegal mining taskforce not to relaxed but rather ensure that the laws are adhered to. He said though research indicates that the activity provides a livelihood to about a million people, it must not be justified on that account.