A comprehensive minerals and mining policy to guide government in its management of the extractives sector has finally been launched, 17 years after it was first proposed.

The policy document -- introduced to address various concerns in the mining industry and ensure mining contributes to structural transformation of the country’s economy -- is themed ‘Ensuring Mining Contributes to Sustainable Development’.

The first draft of the policy was initiated in 1999 and completed in 2001. Thereafter the Commission, with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat, began a review of the 2001 draft -- and after various consultations and reviews by independent bodies as well as inputs from stakeholders, the current document was developed.

Unveiling the document in Accra at a gathering of minerals and mining top executives and industry stakeholders, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Nii Osah Mills said the document forms the basis of Ghana’s Medium Term Development Policy Frameworks -- from Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 1& 11) through to the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA 1, and the current Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda11 (2014 to 2017).

Highlighting some key provisions aimed at addressing issues in the mining sector, Minister Mills explained that the policy seeks to focus on regularising small-scale mining to ensure that it is done in an environmentally-safe way so as to derive its maximum contribution.

“I would therefore like to encourage our mining graduates from the University of Mining and Technology to venture into small-scale mining so as to give it the necessary face-lift.”

Another area of focus for the policy, he said, is linkage development. This, he explained, is to further boost the benefits accruing to the economy from mining -- adding that there should be conscious efforts aimed at integrating the mining industry with the rest of the local economy, thus making it possible for Ghanaian entrepreneurs to increase their participation in the mining industry, especially in the area of providing goods and services.

“Ghana will increase benefits from the mining industry if the industry is recognised as a growth pole to spawn activities in other sectors of the economy. Thus, effective implementation of this policy is a necessary catalyst toward achieving such goals,” he said.

Minister Mills observed that some 30 years ago the mining sector was at its lowest ebb, and so also was the country’s economy

To reverse this trend, he said, a number of programmes were initiated in 1983 during the country’s Economic Recovery Programme -- of which specific mining sector programmes included divesting the failing erstwhile State Gold Mines; rehabilitation and retooling of existing mines at the time; and liberalisation of the exchange rate regime among others.

According to Minister Mills, these measures helped in no small way to attract investments into the mining industry, especially the gold sector.

Available sector data indicate that annual gold production -- which was hovering at around 240,000 ounces in 1984 -- started to appreciate. Ten years later, in 2004, gold production was over 2 million fine ounces. Currently, annual gold production has hit 4.4 million ounces.

Similarly, there were significant increases in the production of Bauxite, Diamond and Manganese, as currently the sector contributes 16% to government’s domestic revenue. Also, total investment inflow to the mining sector since 1983 has been about US$15billion.

Dr. Toni Aubynn, making a presentation to outline the policy’s core objectives, explained that the policy intends to diversify the country’s export base and thereby increase foreign exchange earnings.

It will as well optimise tax revenue generation to support development, generate skilled employment and develop local capacity for the mineral industry, and create demand for local goods and services.

The policy will contribute to infrastructure development and produce raw materials for local usage, contributing to the transformation of mining – especially in rural communities -- and serve as a catalyst for wider investment in the economy, and collaborate with the harmonisation of mineral policy in ECOWAS and Africa generally.

Mr. Aubynn said: “In order to achieve these objectives, government recognises that there is a need to establish a clear, comprehensive and forward-looking national policy that will govern regulation and development of the mining sector.

“Government also recognises that the national mining policy must provide for establishing an enabling environment for investors, one which is based on modern regulatory arrangements and sufficiently attractive terms.

“While seeking to encourage investment, there is also a need to ensure mineral operations are conducted responsibly. Government considers that neglect of the environment and harm to local communities as a result of mining operations is not acceptable.

“The intention is therefore for the country to secure the full economic and social benefits that mining development promises, in an environmentally and socially responsible manner,” Mr. Aubynn stated.

Source: B&FT

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