The government is committed to setting up a gold refinery to add value to gold processing in the country, and also to create jobs for the people, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, NII Osah Mills has assured.
Addressing journalists in Accra yesterday at the meet -the –press, Nii Mills said Ghana, in 2014, produced 4.18 million ounces of gold valued at $4.5 billion, lamenting that the gold was exported in raw form.
Although the minister did not give a specific timeline, he assured “We are pushing to get a gold refinery in the country, it is our dream to set up a gold refinery, and we are trying to do that”.
Nii Mills said despite the opportunities, the mining sub sector has challenges such as land degradation, pollution of the environment, and issues of land tenure security.
He said in 2014, the mining sector contributed 16 per cent of the government revenue as collected by the Domestic Tax Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority saying, “In terms of total merchandise export, the sector had contributed 35 per cent in 2014”.
“It is worthy of note that since 1991, the mining sector has been the single largest contributor to the total merchandise export with gold accounting for about 95 per cent of the mineral portfolio,” the minister said.
Besides, Nii Mills said the government has “declared zero tolerance for raw export of bauxite from the country” explaining that any company wishing to mine bauxite in the country would have to set up an aluminum factory to add value to the bauxite.
He said in pursuance of the government policy to diversify mineral production to increase benefits in the mining sector, base metals (lead, copper and zinc) occurrence discovered in the Buem Formation of the Nkwanta area of the Volta Region has provided the opportunity for prospective applicants to carry out detailed exploration work which would lead to exploration of these base metals.
Nii Mills said the ministry, through the Minerals Commission, had developed the first edition of the local procurement content list in 2013, which comprised eight goods or products that must be procured in the country by mining companies.
These, he said, includes grinding media, explosives, cement and cement products, electric cables, tyre rethreading, quick and hydrated lime, HDPE and PVC pipes and general lubricants stressing that the ministry would continue to ensure compliance with the local content policy.
Nii Mill said the ministry was facilitating the implementation of corporate social responsibility guidelines, developed through extensive stakeholder collaboration to reduce social conflict ensures that companies contributed to structured development in the communities in which they operate.
“Corporate Social Responsibility reports for 2014 submitted by mining companies, have been reviewed by the ministry to ensure compliance with the guidelines,” he said.
The minister said Cabinet had approved a National Mining Policy that seeks to “establish comprehensive and forward looking framework for mining that serves as catalyst for sustainable development and integrated with the rest of the economy while protecting the environment and human rights…”
Nii Mills said Cabinet had approved the Mining Development Fund which would, among others, ensure timely and mandatory release of funds for development and research.
He said the government was working with the African Mineral Development Centre under the African Union, to domesticate the African Mining Vision into a Country Mining Vision.
The minister said the government regards small scale mining as a legitimate business with great potential for poverty alleviations adding that small sale mining remains the exclusive preserve of Ghanaians who hold licenses obtained and signed by the minister.
He said that proposed amendment of the Mineral ad Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), would prescribe severe punishment, including empowering the court to confiscate equipment used in illegal mining popularly referred to “galamsey”.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman