Business News of 2014-07-22

Minerals regulator to promote local concessionaires

The Minerals Commission says it is willing to help skilled jobseekers create their own jobs in the mining sector instead of continuing to search for placement in a sector dogged by massive job-cuts.

According to Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Dr. Toni Aubynn, it’s more advisable for people, mostly graduates armed with the requisite skills to form synergies, to explore opportunities in the sector rather than chase positions in already established mining firms.

“People with the diverse requisite qualifications can team-up and approach the commission for a mining concession. It doesn’t really pay all the time to be looking up to the big firms. When these people approach the commission and satisfy all the requirements, we will take it from there,” he said.

More than 3,000 mineworkers have been laid-off in the mining sector since last year due to the massive drop in the price of bullion. Since the beginning of 2013 the price per ounce of gold has fallen by 22 percent. It now trades at around US$1,300.

More workers are likely to be asked to go home as mining companies try to contain their costs amid the price slump.

Speaking to the Accra Mining Network, made up of diverse professionals from the industry, Dr. Aubynn said there are opportunities in the industry for skilled small-scale miners, and urged professionals to come together to tap those opportunities.

Although the Minerals Commission grants licences for small-scale mining, licencees have not always respected the terms -- while some people mine illegally and destroy vast vegetation cover in search of gold.

According to Dr. Aubynn, apart from creating jobs these synergies of professionals could help in the promotion of safe mining practices.

The meeting with the mining professionals was called at the behest of the Accra Mining Network, which had sought to understand the Minerals Commission’s position on some key issues facing the sector.

The interactive session saw the commission’s CEO respond to concerns from members of the group on various issues ranging from local content policies, small-scale mining, and retention policies among several others.

The former Chamber of Mines boss said most mining firms in the country are pursuing various local content policies, although more needs to be done particularly in the area of sourcing for services locally.

“As far as sourcing for locally manufactured goods is concerned, they [mining companies] are doing something about it, although we would love to have that figure increased. However, with sourcing for services such as consultancy and so on, we are still lagging behind,” he said.

The Minerals and Mining General Regulation 2012, LI 2173, which came into force on June 15, 2012, enjoins mining firms to submit localisation plans to the commission detailing how they intend increasing employment of Ghanaian personnel.

The plan has to contain information on all the expatriates the company has or intends to engage: the position, the job-description, what would be the minimum requirements for that position, and what would be the minimum qualification.

For holders of a mining lease, the regulation says that at commencement of operations or upon coming into force of the regulation, the total number of expatriates in the company should not exceed 10 percent of the total number of senior staff; and three years after, the number has to be reduced to 6 percent. This means certain expatriate positions will have to be eventually occupied by Ghanaians.

Source: B&FT
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