Let your operations benefit the communities – Deputy Minister
Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has called on mining companies in the West Africa sub-region to let communities within which they work see the benefit of their operations.
He said this was important because of the sector’s potential to deliver development to the people.
Speaking at the opening session of the ECOWAS Federation of Chambers and Mines (EFEDCOM) Summit in Accra on Wednesday, Mr Owusu-Bio said the extractive industry has always been recognised as having the potential to be an engine and catalyst for growth.
However, he said, the region and for that matter Africa as a whole, has not witnessed that desired transformation from the sector despite its significant contribution to the World’s minerals stock.
“The West Africa sub-region is a significant producer of minerals; supplying about 8 per cent of the world’s gold and bauxite. The sub-region also produces significant volumes of uranium, diamond, manganese, lead, phosphate and other industrial developmental minerals,” he said.
Mr Owusu-Bio reiterated government’s commitment to the sub-region’s Mineral Development Policy and the Directive on the Harmonisation of Guiding Principles and Policies aimed at ensuring sustainable and responsible mining practices that would develop the region.
These regional initiatives, he said, would add to progressive solutions put in place to provide an enabling environment for responsible mining to thrive.
He said issues of transparency and accountability, coupled with the lack of trust on the side of mining companies and governments has been the major factors of acrimony between these companies and their host communities.
Mr Owusu-Bio said there is the need for effective collaboration with all governments at all levels, as well as other stakeholders in order to deepen transparency and accountability of the industry for accelerated economic growth and development.
“In Ghana, government has a cordial relationship with the Ghana Chamber of Mines and as we collaborate on a number of policy decisions affecting the sector, let us expand the horizon of doing so further,” he said.
Mr Owusu-Bio said in order to ensure an integrated and linked development with the rest of the economy, the Ministry has developed a policy framework that would deepen the local content and add value to its produce.
He said the country and the Africa Mineral Development Centre (AMDC) are working to enhance manufacturing and supply of mining inputs in the sector.
“The Ministry is developing a comprehensive local content policy and legislative instrument to ensure that citizens benefit from all the value chain of mining,” Mr Owusu-Bio said.
Mr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, President of the General Assembly of EFEDCOM, said the integration of the mining industry into other non-mining sectors of the economy would contribute to a fast-paced industrialization.
He said the industry welcomed the renewed interest and emphasis of local content and input into the value chains of mining companies and urged government to create enabling environments to achieve this by way of reduced cost of doing business, improvements in infrastructure and structured support to enable local companies to operate competitively in the supply of inputs.
“All this will not happen without a deliberate policy direction intervention. We urge government to give serious consideration to this often overlooked supply side challenge of the local content debate,” Mr Addo-Kufuor said.
EFEDCOM’s mission is to advocate for effective policies to promote sustainable and responsible mining, using the resources and capabilities of the members to serve the needs of its stakeholders within the community.