Business News of 2014-03-17

TWN holds national dialogue on Minerals Dependence

Mr Ben Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, said government has over the years tried to use laws and regulations to ensure that mining becomes beneficial to Ghanaians.

He said government was not looking at only revenue from mining, but also encouraging Ghanaians to explore opportunities from mining related activities.

Mr Aryee was speaking at a national policy dialogue organised by the Third World Network, Africa, (TWN) on the Consequences of Ghana's Dependence on Minerals.

The dialogue aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between the short term challenges around mineral commodity export dependence, improved benefit sharing and the long term transformation of the Ghanaian economy.

Mr Aryees said the mining sector had seen an investment of more than 30 billion dollars over the years, while 235 exploration rights had been granted with the majority going to Ghanaians.

Besides, there is also 85 mine support companies operating in the country.

Mr Aryee said there is a legal framework in place to ensure that mining companies procure most of their goods locally, saying such can bring significant benefits to a wide range of stakeholders.

Mr Aryee said the small scale mining sector is a significant contributor to livelihood, and efforts must be made to ensure its viability.

Dr Yao Graham of the TWN-Africa, said gold prices have had a good run over the years, and contributed substantially to profit of the gold industry.

However, due to the fall in gold prices in the latter part of 2013, mining companies had begun to lay-off workers, citing rising cost of production.

Gold prices hit historic high until decline in 2013. Annual cumulative average gold price on the world market, which was $ 1,224.53 per ounce in 2010 rose to $ 1,800 in August 2011.

In 2013, the price of gold began to dip from the historical highs and have since remained around $ 1,300 per ounce.

Dr Graham said it was not clear by how much or the extent to which production cost had risen and called for transparency from the mining companies to avoid deepening social inequalities.

He said public policy should be much tilted to localisation and the use of local content to increase the benefits of the sector to citizens.

Mr Eric Gyima, Deputy General Secretary Ghana Mineworkers Union, said with the dip in gold prices the Union had lost 3,080 members through employee lay-offs being carried out by the major mining companies.