The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, says the salt industry has the potential to become a major game-changer for the country’s economy, however, it will require the full backing of the state and the citizenry to achieve it.
According to him, Electrochem Ghana Limited, operators of the Songhor Salt Mine offered the first step towards that realisation and needed the support of the community as well as the state.
“I am amazed that this is an undertaking which if we give it the full support will rival what we are getting from cocoa and we may not have to go to the IMF for any bailout if we pay attention to the natural resource salt which we have in abundance in our backyard,” Mr Atta Akyea said.
Mr Akyea made this observation when he led the committee on a fact-finding mission to the Electrochem Ghana mine site here in Sege on Friday.
The mission was in furtherance of a directive by the Speaker of Parliament for the Committee to undertake the fact-finding following the death of one person in an alleged feud between residents of Ada and operators of the over 400 year-old salt mine.
There has been tension between the residents and the company following its acquisition of 15-year lease to mine the area.
These tensions, Mr Atta Akyea said needed to be addressed to allow the company the free hand to invest and further expand its operations for the benefit of not only the Sege area, but the country as a whole.
“So far, they haven’t even done 40 per cent of the capacity of this set-up and they have sank about US$88 million and they intend to do massive export drive which will bring foreign exchange to this country.
“My pain is that there are people who believe that they have to undermine this enterprise for their personal interest. We cannot have lawlessness to undermine an enterprise that can bless the entire country. This country should not have people who want to undermine progress,” he stated.
He said as directed by the Speaker, the Committee would be engaging all the stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the impasse between the people and the company.
The Ranking member on the Committee, John Jinapor, said there was over concentration on gold but the salt industry could be a game-changer if it received attention from all.
That potential, he said could only be realised in a peaceful environment and parliament would play its role to ensure same was achieved.
“Without a peaceful environment, the business will not function so we will do everything to ensure that all the stakeholders are brought together to ensure that they operated within a peaceful environment and within the framework of the law for a congenial atmosphere for the industry to thrive,” he assured.
With the potential to create 3,000 workers, Electrochem has a 10,000 hectares reservoir to store sea water for production, it is the biggest salt mine in West Africa, has a 60,000 tonne industrial salt washing plant with the capacity to produce 125 tonnes an hour.
FROM JULIUS YAO PETETSI, SEGE