Mining companies in the country should invest in modern infrastructure and intensify exploration in view of the gold price boom on the world market last year, the General Secretary, Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) of the Trades Union Congress Ghana, Abdul-Moomen Gbana, has said.
“Following the colossal gains most mining companies made last year, and the positive outlook demonstrated this year, we expect that mining companies would take strategic advantage of the price boom and by extension increased margins from last year, to invest in modern infrastructure and expand existing ones, increase productivity, intensify exploration activities in order to prolong the life-of-mine,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy, Jerry Andoh, during the half-year National Executive Council meeting for the 2021 held at Tarkwa.
He said increased investment in modern mining infrastructure and intensified exploration would be a substantial step towards the creation of decent and sustainable jobs, extend the life-of-mine of companies, and increase the sector’s contribution to the national purse through taxation and other statutory payments.
He said the move would also provide opportunity to uplift livelihoods of mining communities and modernise the current deplorable mining community infrastructure.
Mr Gbana observed that unlike other sectors which had been heavily hit since the outbreak of the pandemic, the global gold industry and by extension the mining industry so far stood out as the utmost beneficiary of the global health crisis.
“Gold since the beginning of last year has seen an unprecedented break-through in its price as it soared above two thousand US dollars an ounce (US$2,000/oz) towards the tail end of last year and has maintained relative stability since the beginning of this year,” he said.
Touching on decent work in the mining sector, the General Secretary said there was the gradual decline in the decent work gains achieved over the years, through the pursuit of super normal profit strategies by the mining companies.
“Indeed, a comparative study conducted by the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union in 2018 which looked at the employment conditions of standard and their non-standard counterparts in Ghana’s mining sector, revealed that an inverse relationship exists between standard forms of employment or permanent employment and non-standard forms of employment or atypical employment,” Mr Gbana said.
He said the study also revealed a standard to non-standard employment ratio of 5:1.
“This means that, all things being equal, for every six new jobs that are created in the sector, five are permanent while one is temporary and mostly associated with inferior employment conditions,” he said.
Mr Gbana said the GWMU in the coming days would explore a number of strategies including a dialogue session with social partners in order to discuss these matters more comprehensively in order to find lasting solution to this menace.
The General Secretary stressed that the current 20 per cent share of annual mineral royalties allocated to the Mineral Development Fund should be increased to at least 50 per cent to help address the poor state of infrastructure in the mining communities particularly roads.
“In addition, we expect that 50 per cent of the revised 50 per cent allocation to the MDF must go directly into mining community development if indeed, we are committed to the transformation of mining communities as was envisioned in the Mineral Development Fund Act,” Mr Gbana said.
The National Chairman of GMWU Mensah Kwarko Gyarkari expressed concern about the deplorable roads in the mining communities.
“The mining communities in the country have cheated for far too long and called on the government and stakeholders to help address the problem,” he said.
The National Chairman called on stakeholders in the mining sector to stop contract mining as it was creating a lot of redundancies in the mining sector.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE