President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the mining companies to invest part of their wealth in infrastructure development and provision of social services that would positively impact the lives of people in areas where they are operating.
The local communities should benefit from the mineral resource through improvement of their economic, social and environmental conditions and he asked that this was seen by the companies as a matter of obligation.
The President said it was ironic that after decades of mining in places like Obuasi, Tarkwa and Prestea, they remained largely underdeveloped.
Addressing the opening of the West African Mining and Power Conference in Accra, under the theme “A responsible and sustainable mining industry; a partner for national development”, he pointed out that, things needed to radically change.
The distressed state of communities in which mining companies operated “is nothing short of a disgrace, and we must work to change the situation.”
He said “the truth must be told – it is difficult for the average Ghanaian to appreciate that the country gains substantially from mining”.
“It probably has to do with the fact that the communities in which mining has been done remain largely underdeveloped, and do not show signs of being the origins of what brings wealth to so many people and places.”
He asked “Why is Obuasi not the most beautiful community in Ghana or in the world if it hosts the richest gold mine?
Why do Takwa and Prestea not look like the golden towns they are? Why does Akwatia’s appearance not reflect anything about the diamonds that have been taken from the soil all these years?”
President Akufo-Addo said for years the story had been told that the mine in Obuasi was the richest gold mine in the world but comparing the town to Johannesburg, for example, the contrast was simply stark and compelling.
Even though the companies had, over the years, complemented the work of government in these communities, “I am certain that a lot more can be done to transform the communities if government and the mining companies collaborate in an intelligent and sustainable manner.”
He expressed confidence that the Minerals Development Fund Act (2016), Act 912, which was going to be made functional soon, would provide the financial resources to transform the communities, and maximize the benefits of mining.
Touching on the vexed issue of illegal mining, President Akufo-Addo said the ban on small scale mining was a temporary measure and that steps had been taken to address the destruction caused by the activity.
He reminded the mining firms to streamline their activities – maintain globally accepted environmental safety standards.
Mr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor,e President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, highlighted the importance of uninterrupted power supply and said that was crucial to the survival of the mining sector.
He added that an efficient tariff system was equally vital since an unfriendly tariff regime could adversely affect the fortunes of the sector.
He called for sustainable mining that would safeguard the environment for posterity.