Gov’t To Review Gold Mining Contracts
The Akufo-Addo-government is on course to reviewing “most” of the existing gold mining contracts said to have disadvantaged Ghanaians and given field day to foreigners in the past, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has said.
According to George MirekuDuker, the move which is geared at ensuring Ghanaians benefit adequately from their mineral resources, is being spearheaded by the sector Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor.
At a meeting with the leadership of Mineworkers Union on Monday, August 22 in Accra, the Deputy Minister disclosed that the Ministry has already set up a team, working towards achieving this goal.
He said, various stakeholders including the Ghana Chamber of Mines, have been engaged, indicating that these contracts will definitely be looked into, for the benefit of the country.
“We have as a Ministry already indicated clearly that we are going to review most of the contracts and the Minster has set up a team that is working.
We have engaged the Commission and that of the Chamber on this matter, so I can reassure that most of those contracts are going to be reviewed to the benefit of the country”, he said.
His comment was in response to concerns expressed by the Mineworkers Union, who had stressed in a meeting that the narrative where foreigners have remained the main beneficiaries of Ghana’s gold resources was unacceptable and regrettable.
Speaking extensively about concerns of the workers, General Secretary of the Mineworkers, Abdul MuniruGbana enumerated challenges of the workers, general concerns of Ghanaians with respect to gold mining and also other issues bordering on the downstream sector.
He said the practice where 90 percent of Ghana’s gold resources were controlled by foreigners was something that must be corrected with measures and clear move, to negotiate better deals for existing and future contracts.
“We are all aware that the mining industry of Ghana is largely or predominantly controlled by foreign interests. Close to about 99 percent as far as I am concerned, is largely driven by foreign interests. Apart from Prestea Sankofa Gold that is virtually struggling to stand on its feet, all the multinational conglomerates that we know: Newmont, Goldfields, Anglogold and the likes, they are all multinationals and for that matter controlled predominantly by foreign interests.
And so the call by the Minister and by extension government, is a very important call. As a Union, we do not shy away from supporting that course”, the General Secretary said.
He proposed; “In fact, if mining will remain relevant, if mining will remain to our course, as a nation, it will all depend on how we strategically position ourselves to take full advantage of the opportunities that the industry presents. And we cannot do that by just hanging on to some tax royalty giveaways.
We call them giveaways because it does appear that as a nation, all we do is to sit back cross our legs the miners mine, produce the gold sell and then we take a bite of the tax or by way of tax royalties that comes to government. That obviously is not sustainable”.
According to MrGbana, there is an urgent need for Ghana to create value for its gold resources and ensure that the value created, is retained for the benefit of the people.
He said it time government showed leadership and looked at ways to ensure that the mineral resources are enjoyed by Ghanaians by ensuring that citizens own the resources rather than it is presently.
“We believe that there is an urgent need for us to create value to ensure that we retain that value for the greater good of the nation and it citizens. And to do that obviously requires capacity building without special purpose vehicle.
It is important that we take a commanding height of the mining industry and so as a Union, we have consistently advocated and campaigned vigorously about the need for us to shift away from tax royalty regime to a more aggressive participation.
We believe that, that can be done in a number of ways, the fact that multinational conglomerates have 99 percent share or interests in these mines while government manages a paltry 10 percent local interest does not mean that the formula must remain the same”, he said.
Adding “We must shift away and look at the possibility of negotiating a better arrangement beyond the 10 percent 90 percent arrangements that we have at the moment. That is the only way we can create value for this country and it citizens”.
The Mineworkers argued that it was regrettable that after decades of mining gold, Ghana cannot boast of any indigenous gold mining firm but citizens are under the circumstance left to fight for the little opportunity left at the downstream.
He said Ghanaians must be involved visibly like it is done elsewhere. MrGbana said the union supports the call for local content but saying this must be done forcefully than it exist now.
“As a Union we believe that after over 100 years of mining, it is extremely sad that we are only left to scrabble for the downstream opportunities that mining presents.
The narrative ought to change, we shouldn’t leave contract mining to Ghanaians we should not leave only exploration activities to Ghanaians, Ghanaians must be actively involved in the core business of and process at the moment there is no such thing in the system and it is important government call for localization is a bit more forceful than the way we have always seen it.
Because of it just about taking advantage of supply chain opportunities here and there, I don’t think we can deal with core business. We are just scratching the surface of the issue, we can do better than this. And so we support that course, we are determine to work with you to change that narrative.
South Africa, is South Africa because of participation of South Africa in the ownership of the mines. Anglogold is predominately a South Africa mine, Goldfields is South Africa mine Newmont is American mine. They have their mines in their backyard where is ours”.
The group also tasked government to ensure that negotiating of contracts both for existing and future, are done with a better percentage insisting “We expect that in existing contracts, lets create the opportunity to negotiate some reasonable percentages in there subsequent or future contracts should give us the opportunity to negotiate even better let us not consign ourselves to this 10 percent local interest. I don’t think that is the way to go.
The meeting was held to ostensibly deepen the relationship between the Ministry and the workers, on ways to prioritize the needs and concerns of the Union, in the downstream sector.
The engagement between the Union and the Ministry comes at a time government has intensified call various mining companies, to develop and deepen local content policies to benefit workers and indigenes at large.