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Business News Thu, 31 Aug 2006

GCD will collapse without new processing plant - MD

Akwatia (E/R), Aug. 31, GNA - Ghana Consolidated Diamond (GCD) Limited, the major state-owned diamond producing company, would collapse if efforts are not made to immediately replace its processing plant. The plant established in 1924 is weak and the Company is losing huge sums of money since it can produce only 6,000 carats of diamond a month instead of about 20,000 carats.

Dr Maxwell Kusi Mensah, Managing Director of GCD, made this known when Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines and the Deputy Minister Mrs Rita Tani Idi and some officials of the Ministry and the Mines Commission visited the Company at Akwatia on Wednesday. Dr Mensah said the situation made it difficult for the Company to pay its more than 800 employees on time. The Company could also not move to other reserves to mine richer ore, he added.

"We have earmarked about 243 square kilometres at our River Birim Concession, which is twice the size of Akwatia, to operate but our weak processing plant is making it difficult for us to do so," he said. Responding to the concerns, Prof. Fobih said the Ministry was aware of the problem and was working hard to get the Company divested. He said an investor from Balaji Gemlust in India had expressed interest to partner with Government to develop the sector, adding that the proposal was currently before the Attorney-General for study.

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At a durbar with GCD employees, Prof. Fobih reiterated Government's commitment to ensure that the Company operated effectively and called on Ghanaians to invest in the sector even if on a small-scale since the Government was ready to provide the necessary support to such investments. Prof. Fobih also visited the GCD Hospital and interacted with the Staff and paid a courtesy call on Osabarima Kofi Boateng III, Akwatiahene, at his Palace.

Osabarima Boateng expressed concern that the Akwatia Traditional Council was not receiving any royalties, and often encountered difficulty in reclaiming already used lands for other development projects. He said although diamond remained a major asset at Akwatia, the town had other resources such as oil palm that could also be developed to create employment and economic gains. He said the Stool had been in contact with some investors ready to undertake the venture, and urged the Ministry to give such investors the chance to inject capital into the Company. The Akwatiahene pledged to support the Government to protect the resource and appealed to the Ministry to include chiefs in discussions that affected mining communities.

Source: GNA
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