The mining industry has moved beyond being a mere economic producer to a key player in the socio-cultural and development agenda in host communities, Miss Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, has said.
She said profit was no longer the only bottom line and that the industry was using the best means possible to protect and preserve the environment by applying best practices and cutting edge technologies in mining operations.
Speaking at a networking meeting with the Ashanti Regional Press Corps in Kumasi on Tuesday, Ms Aryee said the Chamber is willing to work with the government and other stakeholders to implement principles of co-operative decision-making and shared responsibility for the management of social and environmental issues.
She said the mining industry in Ghana regarded itself as a very responsible corporate citizen, which did not condone the wilful or intentional infringement of the rights of the communities on whose land they operated.
"On the contrary, we uphold fundamental human rights and respect cultures, customs and values in dealings with employees and others who are affected by our activities. We are fair and honest in our dealings and treat other stakeholders and persons with dignity", she reiterated.
Miss Aryee said mining companies had initiated voluntary community social responsibility programmes in their catchment areas.
She mentioned the establishment of community development funds by mining companies to provide infrastructure in the areas of education, health, road construction and others to improve the living conditions of the people in their catchment areas.
She said members of the Chamber had also embarked on a sustainable alternative livelihood programmes, which had been focusing on progressively turning the communities in which they worked and lived into better places.
On royalties, Miss Aryee said the Chamber was advocating for 30 per cent instead of 10 per cent of mineral royalties to be returned over a specified period for specific infrastructure projects in mining areas in order to stimulate development.
She said members of the Chamber remained committed to upholding human rights in communities where they operated and denied that security agencies were being used to brutalise members in mining communities.
Miss Aryee emphasized that the industry regarded their host communities as an integral part of their activities and it would be counter productive to turn round and subject them to human rights abuses.
She said mining would continue to play a central role in the economic development of the country and called for a concerted effort to use the mining industry to transform the nation, especially the rural communities.