Mr Prince William Ankrah, National Secretary of the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), said the lack of adequate infrastructure and the increasing number of slums in mining communities was a sign of failure on the part of government and local authorities.
“We cannot continue to operate in an area which lacks the basic necessities that promotes the social wellbeing of the inhabitants and makes the cost of doing business in the area difficult,” he said.
Mr Ankrah said this at the opening of a two-day National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Union at Tarkwa last Thursday.
He said posterity would not forgive the present generation for their inability to use resources from the mining sector to transform society and the social wellbeing of the people.
Mr Ankrah suggested the formation of a Mining Development Fund (MDF) for the development of social infrastructure, road improvement, slum upgrading and the provision of modern housing facilities that would make the workers of mining companies live better after the mine life.
He suggested that 20 per cent of mineral royalties should go into the Fund which has to be managed by a decentralized institution that would make communities feel part of the success stories of mining companies.
Mr Ankrah said mining companies in several countries have been able to transform their host communities and made them centres of excellence and all efforts must be made to transform the living conditions of the people of Tarkwa and its environs.
“Tarkwa boasts of six mining companies with international recognition, but the present state of Tarkwa and its environs is too embarrassing and negative” he added.
He again suggested that the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) based at Tarkwa though focused on producing graduates for the mining sector, must develop and expand its programmes to enable other youths and individuals, who are not interested in mining, to venture into other areas.
Mr Ankrah said the low housing stock in the mining communities, could be reversed if mining companies made arrangements to assist their employees to build and own houses while in active service in order not to make paupers during their retirement.
He suggested that the defunct Mine Workers Housing Trust Fund should be re-activated to support that direction and pledged that such initiatives would enhance productivity and enhance worker management relationship.
Mr Alfred Baako, General Manager of Goldfields Ghana Limited Tarkwa Mine said the recent increases in tariffs by the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC), was likely to affect their operations.
He said some mine workers were likely to lose their jobs as well.
He said the recent increases in royalties from three to five per cent would affect the interests of the company as well.