Mike Allen Hammah, Minister of Lands & Natural Resources, has called for additional contributions from mining firms for present and future generations. Hon. Hammah, speaking at the maiden ‘Mining for Development Forum’ organized by the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said the track record of the mining sector, compared to other sectors of the economy, showed that mining companies could do a lot more.
The minister urged operators in the mining sector to tackle the negative perceptions in the industry. In recent times, mining companies have been accused of degrading the environment. These activities, the minister noted, are negatively impacting the environment and called on mining firms to consider ways to use mining as a catalyst for development.
“I hope that the benefits of mining would far outweigh its detrimental impact on the environment, as companies seek to adopt more responsible mining as a business practice.” He announced that the Minerals Development Fund Bill will soon be passed into law to ensure that industry contributes significantly to the development of the country.
The passage of the law, he said, would highlight government’s commitment to boost infrastructure development in mining communities. “The bill makes room for the establishment of a mining community development scheme into which proceeds from royalty payments and development funds of mining companies and other sources would be paid.”
Mr. Hammah said funds mobilized would be used by local development committees that had been set up in the mining communities to exclusively undertake infrastructure projects. The bill would further prescribe guidelines for rolling out corporate social responsibility projects, setting health and safety standards, tackling environmental issues and resolving issues relating to blasting activities of mining companies, among others.
The mining industry accounts for about seven percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and mineral exports make up 42 percent of total merchandise exports. Over the past decade, the mining sector has consistently been the highest gross foreign exchange earner.
In 2011, export revenues from the mining sector amounted to over US $5billion. It currently contributes about 17.5 per cent of Ghana’s total corporate tax earnings and 28.3 per cent of government revenue. About 28,000 people are employed in the large scale and mine support services industry while over 1,000,000 people are engaged in the small scale gold, diamond, sand winning and quarry industries.
Dr. Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Chamber of Mines commented: “The industry can still do more to assist in the accelerated development of the country. Mining can still be made meaningful to society than it is today.” The forum, expected to be a bi-quarterly event, will showcase and discuss the strategic partnership between the mining industry and government for socio-economic transformation.
“It is our hope that this will address the public quest for information, the absence of which has fueled a strong negative perception about mining.”