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04.05.2004 Business & Finance

Ministry of Mines to review policies on royalties.

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Tongo (U/E), May 4, GNA - The Ministry of Mines is to review existing laws and policies, and where necessary come out with new ones to facilitate the transparent and fair transfer of mining royalties to the local people.

As a result, the ministry has embarked on a broad base consultation with various key stakeholders, including traditional authorities to collect ideas and views on how to make these policies workable and relevant to today's mining environment.

The Deputy Minister of Mines, Dr. Abdel-Majeed Haroun stated this on Saturday when he paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, Tongo-Rana Kwadan Tii in his palace at Tongo, as part of a day's familiarization tour of mining sites in the newly created Nabdam/Talensi District of the Upper East Region.

Besides, the payment of royalties, mining ventures have a moral and social responsibility to contribute to the development of the communities in which they operate, Dr. Haroun said.

He said it is for this reason that mining communities must be well informed about mining regulations so that they can help to constantly remind the companies of the need to restore degraded lands, provide some basic needs of local communities like schools and clinics as well as find alternative sources of livelihood for the people.

He told the chiefs and people of the area that his ministry would continue to work in their interest by monitoring the operations of mining concerns to insure compliance with sound environmental standards as well as respect for local socio-cultural practices.

The Tongo-Rana said he was happy efforts are being made to make mining companies accountable to the people, pointing out the problem of non-payment of royalties as a major concern to his people.

He appealed to the ministry to make sure that small-scale miners operating in his traditional area abide by the customs and traditions of the people, and pledged the support of the people for the success of government policies.

Later, the deputy Minister visited the Granite and Marble Company near Tongo and four small-scale mining communities in the area. He told the miners to form co-operatives that would make it easier for them to get loans from the banks and other special credit facilities like the Minerals Development Fund.

Dr. Haroun announced that the government is looking for investors who would come in to provide support services in the small-scale mining sector.

He also told them to use the mercury used to extract gold with care and avoid tendencies that would expose them and the larger society to health hazards.