The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Sulemanu Koney, has called on government to formulate policies to tap the numerous benefits associated with mining, to accelerate national economic development, instead of focusing on mining tax revenues alone.
He noted that, the government had focused on tax, royalties and corporate revenues from mining, rather than developing ancillary ventures to provide services and supplies, such as activated carbon to the mining companies.
Mr Koney, gave the advice in an interview with The Ghanaian Times in Accra last Friday, after a media encounter to inform the public on an ongoing study, commissioned by the Chamber and the International Council on Mining and Metals on mining.
He noted that revenues generated by government from the mining sector were spent on recurrent expenditure, instead of capital projects.
The study being conducted by Steward Redqueen and the African Centre for Economic Transformation is looking at the economic social benefits of mining.
Mr Koney said the preliminary findings of the study indicated that the country was not optimising the benefits of mining, due to lack of long-term policies and vision for the mining sector.
He noted that South Africa had greatly benefited from mining because of the pragmatic policies initiated by the government to harness the potentials of mining, saying Johannesburg, a gold mining city, was built through deliberate policies developed by the South African government.
Mr Koney said Obuasi, an ancient gold mining town in the Ashanti, could also be developed like Johannesburg, through effective policies by government.
He urged the government of Ghana to set up a company to produce activated charcoal and caustic soda, which were critical ingredients for refining gold, from the mining companies.
Mr Koney noted the mining companies every year spend more than $5 million on the importation of activated carbon.
“The mining companies are ready to source their raw materials locally if such products can be produced locally,” he said, adding that mining companies currently spend $625 million every year on local procurement.
He said the Chamber would support the Minerals Commission to hold a stakeholders’ conference to discuss measures to implement the Local Content Policy for the benefit of local companies.
Mr Koney called for effective collaboration between the government and key stakeholders in the mining sector, to ensure that the country benefited adequately from mining.
Dr Rene Kim, a partner of Steward Redqueen, said on the average, 110, 000 people were employed directly and indirectly annually by the mining sector.
He said for every one job at a mining company, 17 additional jobs were created indirectly.
By Kingsley Asare