SECRETARY GENERAL of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Kofi Asamoah has taken mining companies in Ghana to task over their perceived low contribution to the national economy.
According to him, despite the all-time boom in gold prices on the international market, there appears to be an emerging general consensus that mining has not contributed much to national development.
He said though no one can deny the importance of mining in the economy of Ghana and that of mining communities, it contributes just about 7 percent to the GDP and provides employment to less than one percent of the total workforce.
Addressing delegates at the 10th Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) in Sunyani, Mr. Asamoah said the mining sector surprisingly comes seventh and is below average earnings in the fishing and education sub-sectors in spite of all the hype about mining in Ghana.
It is for this reason, brother chair that I find the theme of your conference: Blending the Interests of Stakeholders in the Mining Industry towards Operational Excellence, very appropriate and timely. The theme is forward looking and shows that the union has its ears on the ground, he said.
Giving his keynote address, Kabral Blay Amihere, Chairman of the National Media Commission, said the various stakeholders in the mining sector such as employees, government, chiefs and community people represent the oil that lubricates the business for success or failure.
The stakeholder in the mining industry therefore challenges organizations to operate in an atmosphere of openness, diligently, honestly and being accountable, as they continue to engage companies and foster a healthy relationship for business to thrive, he stressed.
Touching on the neglect of mining communities in the country, Mr. Blay Amihere called on government to introduce more stringent regulations in all aspects of mining to protect the citizenry against perceived and real abuses, speculative activities, security of the products and generally how mining businesses are conducted.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union, Prince William Ankrah, expressed grave concern about the ownership structure of governments stake in the mineral wealth of Ghana which to him is not in the best interest of the nation in its current form.
The Union [GMWU] will campaign along with other civil society pressure groups to dilute the foreign capital component of the stake in the existing ownership apportionment, he stated.
He cited the case of DeBeers and the Botswana government, where the ownership arrangement is 50/50, saying government may have to further invest in mining exploration and develop appropriate bankable documents so as to offer the state a clear insight into the reserves available.
He added that royalties must also be well apportioned and used for earmarked development projects with the view to facilitating the sustainability programme.
President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dan Owiredu, mentioned that as long as the mining industry remains a potent wealth distribution in the economy of Ghana, it will continue to generate the kind of stakeholder interest which must be managed properly and efficiently to ensure harmony and progress for all who do have a genuine interest in the future of mining in Ghana.
He called on players in the mining chain together with their various stakeholders to collect, analyze and share information about the impact of their various businesses in terms of economic results, social responsibility and environmental consequences.
Source: Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Sunyani
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