A new harmonised Act to ensure consistent regulation of the mining sector across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to come into force by June this year.
The draft ECOWAS Model Mining and Minerals Development Act (EMMMDA), and its implementation strategy is currently under review.
The Act, which would only come into effect after it is endorsed by Heads of States of ECOWAS member countries, was developed by the ECOWAS Commission.
At a mining experts and civil society groups meeting in Accra organised by West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) yesterday to review the draft Act, Sediko Douka, Commissioner of Mines and Energy, ECOWAS Commission, said the draft Act would, among other things, cover institutional structures and licensing permits.
It would also focus on concept on general governance, fiscal framework, local content and implementation strategy, he noted.
The mining sector in the region, he said, was faced with several challenges including human resource, local content policies and complex negotiations that limited the ability of local businesses to explore the area.
As part of strategies to reverse the current situation, Mr Douka explained that the new Act provided measures to enable member countries deal with the challenges.
Member states, he said were expected to align the Act with their countries’ Mining Act, and harmonise policies to remove the obstacles impacting negatively on the mining sector.
Mr Douka said mining sector ministers from the region would meet in Accra next month to deliberate and adopt the Act for further expert validation, adding that it would then be presented to the ECOWAS Heads of States Assembly to be endorsed for implementation.
Director, Research and Statistics of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Richard Kofi Afenu, explained that the Act, when implemented, would harmonise all mining laws and policies of member states to ensure consistent regulation of the sector across the sub-region.
Despite various global initiatives on the mining sector, he said member states in the ECOWAS sub-region continued to suffer several challenges which had impeded the contribution of the sector to economic growth.
“This Act will ensure best practices in mining is undertaken in the region for optimal benefit and promote sustainable mining with no negative consequences for the future generations,” he added.
To ensure local mining areas were developed, Mr Afenu stated that the Act made provision for procedures and mechanisms to protect mining communities to spur investment and growth.
He said the Act further also had provision for the establishment of an advisory council to oversee implementation of mining policy directives within the sub-region.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS