Study suggests foreign miners should set up bauxite refinery plant

A study into the mining of bauxite in Ghana has recommended government policy that makes it mandatory for foreign companies that want to mine the resource to establish a refinery plant.

This would help maximise the potential in the sector.

It said while most foreign companies that had held equity stake in the past came on the promise of establishing a bauxite refinery plant in the country, they ended up exporting the raw product to their refinery plants abroad to the detriment of the local economy.

The one year long study was commissioned by the Third World Network, a civil society organisation to examine the socio-economic as well as environmental impact of bauxite mining in Ghana.

The key objectives of the study were to highlight the debate and draw public attention to the potential contribution of bulk minerals to the socio-economic development of Ghana and determine their economic contribution as well as social and environmental impacts.

It examined the environmental impacts of mining activities within the catchment communities of Ghana Bauxite Company (GBC), the real and potential contribution of the bauxite sector to the economy in terms of employment figures, technology transfer, government revenue (royalty payment, taxes and duties over the last 10 years or so), and overall Gross Domestic Product  as well as forward and backward linkages (real and potential) to other sectors of the economy.

Mr Sampson Atiemo, a research scientist,  who presented the findings at a media briefing, said  there was general dissatisfaction among the chiefs and people in communities within the catchment area of the company.

The catchment communities of GBC are Awaso, Asempanaye, Atronsu, Subri and Chirano.

He said although the provision of some social infrastructure had been done on cost sharing basis, the communities had in reality been denied some livelihood opportunities such as water and farm lands.

Majority of  sampled population who are about  65 per cent  held the view that the mining operation had  degraded and deprived them of their farm lands.

Besides, payment of royalties to communities within the catchment area has not been forthright.

Apart from Awaso, none of the communities were aware of payment of mining royalties.

Some community members opined that people who either knowingly or unknowingly farm on idle lands of the company gets their farms destroyed without prior information.

On the environment, Mr Atiemo said the results revealed extremely high concentration of elements such as silicon, manganese and iron, among others in the sediment.

“An aggregate of all the elements showed that the River Awa contain the most polluted sediment,” he said.

He said River Subri is also suffering mainly from legacy mining since the old Kanayerebo mine was located near the water body.

He said the analysis of water quality also indicated very high pollution of the rivers in the area, saying that River Awa, which is the main source of drinking water is at the brink of complete siltation.

This can be attributed to tapping at the head source to supply drinking water to the staff of the company at Kanayerebo and damming to provide water for bauxite washing thus reducing the volume of water available to the river.

Production of bauxite has fluctuated over the years – from 2000 to 2008 (430,000 tonnes to approximately 800,000.00 tonnes while export earnings went from $13 million to about $18 million).

Source: GNA

  1. Mark Phillips says

    Who is going to guarantee power supply to the refinery. I mean 20years guarrantee. Has anyone checked the cost of building a refinery in a country where 90% all parts are imported.

  2. Mark Phillips. says

    Dont look too far, just walk to Valco and and ask Managment about electricity. Valco will be the recipient of products from the proposed refinery. It just amazing the level of so called think tanks.

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