Business News of 2014-05-21

Comprehensive laws can end confusion in mining sector

The Chamber of Mines has blamed the continuous confusion in the country’s mining sector on lack of a strong broad-based mining policy that regulates all the activities in the industry.

Sheila Minkah-Premo, Chamber of Mines Solicitor said: “There is confusion in the mining sector due to scattered laws, and to do away with all this confusion there is need for a centralised mining policy to regulate the industry so as to reflect and promote development in the country".

According to the Solicitor, a number of mining policies which are still being enacted to regulate the sector include the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives bill; National Mining Policy; Minerals Development Fund; and Minerals and Mining Act among others.

These various policies, she said, create a lot of confusion in the industry. To ensure sanity, there should be a comprehensive broad-based policy to regulate the sector’s activities.

In 2001, the country was obliged to put in place a process to review its mining code with financial and technical assistance from the World Bank.

The Minerals Commission has again announced its readiness to complete the mining policy to guide government in its management of the mining and minerals sector by 2012.

The policy document, which has been at its draft stage since two years ago, was targetted at defining usage of the country’s mineral resources for national development.

The policy was initiated in 1999 and went through various stakeholder consultations and independent review in 2001, now reaching its current final draft stage.

Ms. Minkah-Premo was making a presentation under the topic ‘Mining Sector Legal Framework Perspective of the Industry' to members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) at a five-day seminar in Koforidua.

The workshop, the second of its kind and sponsored by GIZ in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), was aimed at proving capacity building for IFEJ members on governance of the extractive sector in the country.

This collaboration with IFEJ again seeks to deepen media coverage on resource governance issues in both print and electronic media. It was as well targetted at deepening discussions and broadening national discourse.

Director of Public Affairs and Environment, Chamber of Mines, Mr. Ahrmed Nantogmah who gave the overview of the mining industry, said it is time for the country to diversify its mineral base and take advantage of other lesser minerals like salt, clinker, clay, marble and others which are not being explored.

He observed that there is over-concentration on Gold, Bauxite and Manganese as the country’s major minerals export commodities.

“Salt is a major mineral that could give Ghana a head-start with very few environmental challenges,” he said.

He proposed an increase in the royalty payment to enhance development in the mining communities, adding that mining companies, government and chiefs have collectively agreed on what the royalties should be used for instead of the current situation where the monies are being paid to the consolidated fund before disbursement is done.

Mr. Nantogmah said because minerals resources are finite, the country must ensure judicious used of them.

Activities of the industry, he said, have had positive impacts on the communities which include transfer of skills, technical transfer, and provision of social amenities among others.

He advocated removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on the exploratory service being undertaking by mining companies, adding that it drives away potential investors from the country.

The chamber, he said, “believes this will bring in more companies to invest in the country and create additional foreign direct investment while promoting employment creation, revenue enhancement and growth of the local economy”.