Barring any unforeseen circumstances, underwater logging in the Volta Lake is expected to begin in September 2010.
This follows the signing of a partnership deal between Clarke Sustainable Resources Developments (CRSD) and Triton Logging to implement the commercial phase of the Volta Lake Timber Project.
The two companies on Thursday initialled a commitment letter to enable Triton to deliver its world-leading underwater logging technology to the Project, to pave way for commercial operations to begin.
Triton Logging will deliver the SHARC system, which works in shallow waters and the Sawfish underwater logging equipment for deep water operations.
CSRD Founder and President, Wayne Dunn, and Triton’s Founder and President, Chris Godsall, expressed satisfaction about the agreement.
“We are both very excited about delivering these technologies to Volta Lake in the latter half of 2010. We are equally excited about bringing our two companies together in a merger that will see us expand the underwater logging industry on a global basis. Our shared commitment to the principles of sustainable business development forms a strong foundation for success,” they said in a statement.
The Volta Lake was created with the construction of the Akosombo Dam in 1964, resulting in the submergence of tracts of forest, and the relocation of some 80,000 people to 52 newly created townships on the Lake’s higher banks.
It is estimated that timber resources worth 2.8 billion dollars are locked up under the Lake.
In February 2006, the Volta River Authority and Government of Ghana signed an agreement for phase one on harvesting, processing and marketing of timber from the Volta Lake with CSRD.
The agreement was ratified by Parliament on July 28, 2006.
It comprised a Preparatory Phase (Phase One) and a Commercial Phase (Phase Two), and allows CSRD to develop and launch privately financed timber salvage and processing operation on the Volta Lake.
Highlights of the agreement include the underwater stock survey and inventory of commercial tree species in Volta Lake, a comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment studies before commercial operations commence.
It is estimated that about 100 million dollars worth of investment will be brought into Ghana in addition to payment of corporate taxes to government.
The project will ensure environmentally certified timber products from Ghana to the global market, establish Ghana as a world leader in underwater timber harvesting and develop technologically advanced processing and other value-added capabilities in Ghana.
Mr. Nayon Bilijo, Director of Strategic Relationships, CSRD said the objective of Phase One was to assess the timber resource potential in the Volta Lake and determine best harvesting, processing and marketing techniques.
It will also determine relevant environmental and social interventions; financing arrangements required to develop the underwater logging industry and associated value added activities in Ghana.
Mr. Bilijo said CSRD was to execute the project at no cost to government and secure all required financing for the project, source and finance appropriate technology for underwater harvesting of timber from Volta Lake.
He said the project would benefit the country through injection of direct foreign investment.
Another key benefit to Ghana would be lake transportation safety with the harvesting of submerged trees, which have caused fatal boat accidents on the Volta Lake in the past.
CSRD has completed Phase One of the project and submitted the final report to signatories of the agreement after an earlier submission in November 2008 of a Completion Report to Government of Ghana.
Mr. Bilijo said the industry would create jobs and generate revenue for Volta Lake communities and the country.
The Phase One budget of over 17 million dollars was financed entirely with private capital.
Mr. Gordon Smith, Board Chairman of Triton, said the company would bring to bear its environmentally and socially sustainable underwater logging operations into Ghana.
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