Ghana's Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama today asked mining companies operating in Ghana to be transparent and accountable over disbursements and the revenue they paid to the Government as advocated under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
He said minerals production, especially gold had tremendously increased since 2001, hence the need for the Government to take advantage of the revenue associated with it in a clear and open manner.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama made the request when he addressed the Seventh West Africa Mining and Power Exhibition and Conference in Accra dubbed: "WAMPEX 2006" on the theme: "Minerals and Electric Power Beneficiation for West Africa Sub-Region." The price for gold rose from 276.5 dollars an ounce in 2001 to 515.6 dollars, showing a percentage increase of 46.4 to 634 dollars in May 31st, 2006.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama said the significant increase in the price of gold, together with favourable government policies had led to an increased investment of mining giants, such as Newmont of USA, Golden Star Resources, Goldfields of South Africa and junior partners such as Rangold and Redback, in the West African Sub-Region. He expressed the need for governments in the Sub-Region to team up to initiate the process of adding value to minerals produced in order to derive more economic benefits.
Focusing on the theme, Vice President Alhaji Mahama said the West African Gas Pipeline Project would be completed in less than a year to help operators in the mining industry to use the product to generate electricity.
He urged the mining companies to be mindful of environmental concerns and to help to provide alternative livelihoods for communities where mining was no longer viable. "In meeting your social responsibilities to communities I want to urge you again to use the District Assembly system as a planning vehicle in order to avoid duplication in the provision of social services," he added.
Mr Kwamina Anaman, Consultant to AngloGold Ashanti on Corporate Affairs, who chaired the function, noted that mining companies were spending about five million dollars a year on electricity, which he said was a great hindrance to productivity.
He said the industry was also grappling with problems about the environment and misconceptions about mining activities and called on the stakeholders to adopt business principles towards their operations.
Mr Anaman said the industry provided more than 16,000 jobs in Ghana and had lived up to its corporate responsibility by providing alternative employment in operational areas. He said the mining companies had provided three million dollars to support the Black Stars in their World Cup campaign in Germany, while AngloGold Ashanti had provided a similar amount to support the fight against malaria especially at Obuasi, where it aimed at reducing the disease by 50 per cent.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama later interacted with the more than 200 people attending the conference and inspected products being exhibited.