Business News Tue, 24 Feb 2004

Govt secures funds to unearth minerals in Volta Basin

Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama, on Tuesday, announced that the Government had secured 20 million Euros for the Geological Survey Department (GSD) to undertake geological mapping and airborne geophysical survey of the Voltaian Basin, which is believed to hold large deposits of various industrial minerals.

The money constitutes half of a 40-million Euros grant from the European Union to support the Mining Sector.

Additionally, he pledged the Government's commitment to assisting the GSD in its bid to obtain information on the hydrocarbon potential of the Voltaian Basin for use by potential investors.

Vice President Mahama said this when he opened a Conference to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the GSD in Accra. Experts say the 600 square-kilometre Basin contain bauxite, iron ore, phosphate, uranium and other minerals in huge commercial quantities that could be mined to radically transform the economic fortunes of the country.

Participants from the Geological Surveys of Germany, United States, Denmark, Britain, Sweden and Finland, among other countries, have joined their Ghanaian counterparts at the Conference.

It is under the theme: "Ninety Years of Geological Activities in Ghana, The Way Forward".

Vice President Mahama challenged the participants to identify new concepts and programmes to support infrastructure development, especially road construction, geo-tourism, the supply of water and the safe use of land.

"Our expectation is that the GSD would provide reliable data on mineral occurrences, underground water potentials, safe grounds for development to support effective planning and land use at all levels," he stressed.

"Such survey will enable communities to use industrial minerals such as clay and limestone products for affordable housing and the development of rural industries to provide employment and income for our rural communities."

Vice President Mahama urged Ghanaians to respect information and guidelines issued by GSD on the use of land to avoid developing properties on geologically unsafe grounds.

He mentioned some parts of Tantra Hills in Accra, where some buildings had been constructed along geologically weak zones and thereby developing deep cracks in them.

Those buildings, he noted, would have to be pulled down to prevent disasters from occurring.

Mrs. Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines, explained the role of the GSD, saying it is to develop a reliable national geo-science database to provide information for use by the mining sector, and areas such as water resource development, environmental management energy, land use and engineering works among other things.

She said recognising its importance to mining, the Ministry of Mines was collaborating with the social partners of Denmark, Greenland, Britain, Germany and the European Union, to revitalise the department to maximise its contribution to the sector.

Mrs Bannerman said during the 90 years of the GSD's existence, it had accumulated a wealth of data, but "regrettably, most of these are not in the format to attract current customer interest and usage."

She said an archive rehabilitation unit had, therefore, been established to retrieve all such data and computerise them.

Mr Philip Yaw Amoako, Director of GSD, said the Department is the third oldest in Africa after Egypt and South Africa, adding that it had chalked many successes.

He said the department would be happy if data were largely used in national development efforts adding that that would be the only way to reward its efforts.

Mr. Amoako noted that geo-scientists should be included in Board Membership on bodies like the National Development Planning Commission, National Resource Commission, and Land Commission to make an impact. Ms. Joyce R. Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, pledged its support to the GSD, adding that it would put its technical and intellectual resources at the disposal of the GSD when the need arose.

Mr. Godfred Opong, Former Director of the GSD, who chaired the function, supported the call for exploring the potentials of the Volta Basin, saying its potentials were enormous and could do wonders for the country economically. 24 Feb 04

Source: GNA