Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, has asked mining companies to collaborate closely with district assemblies in their areas of operation in the development and implementation of Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Programmes (ASLP) for the people in the host communities.
This, according to the Minister would develop a thorough capacity for the assemblies to take over the programme and provide continued support to the people during the decommissioning of the mines.
Mining companies should also consider diversifying their ASLPs by introducing value addition service schemes and harmonise their activities with government agencies to establish professional or cottage industries in order to sustain the socio-economic lives of the people in the host communities.
Professor Fobih made the call at a forum on Mines social responsibilities to host communities in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region yesterday.
The forum, which was organised by the Centre for Biodiversity Utilisation and Development (CBUD) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), was under the theme, "The mines corporate social responsibility towards alternative livelihood to affected communities in the Ghana mines sector."
Professor Fobih said mining companies should look at the variety of programmes under their ASLP and collaborate with the district assemblies and government agencies to ensure sustainability.
He said the Ministry was collaborating with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to forward a joint draft bill to Cabinet to propose the establishment of the Minerals Development Fund and to provide for its administration and development.
Professor Fobih pointed out that, the introduction of the bill had become necessary due to difficulties and lack of guidelines for the application of the Minerals Development Fund, which was established by the government in 2002.
The new bill, according to the Minister, would create the Mining Communities Development Scheme, into which mining companies, district assemblies and the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines would make financial contributions and manage it with the mining communities to execute agreed projects in order to speed up the socio-economic development in the mining communities.
The Minister said government was promoting the exploration for and exploitation of the nation's mineral resources to create employment opportunities for the youth and revenue for sustainable development of the country, while at the same time encouraging mining companies to undertake alternative livelihood projects in their host communities.
He said the government had also initiated programmes to provide alternative sustainable livelihood projects to the people in mining communities, adding that, a pilot oil palm plantation project was currently being undertaken in the Prestea-Huni Valley area in the Wassa West district.
Mr Jurgen Eijgendaal, President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines in an address read for him, said mining companies apart from the payment of taxes, royalties and other charges, had undertaken a number of socio-economic development projects in host communities. He mentioned the provision of school infrastructure, hospitals, access roads, water and others to the people.
Mr Eijgendaal said the industry was focusing on progressively turning the host communities in which they worked and lived into better places, adding that, strong emphasis had been placed on the planning and implementation of several alternative sustainable livelihood programmes as part of their operations.
Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice Chancellor of the KNUST, appealed to the mining sector to provide financial assistance to the universities to enable them incorporate the requisite needs for the training of the appropriate human resource with the right knowledge, skills and ability to push the industry forward.
He called on the government and the mining sector to continually review strategic objectives that fitted into the operational environment of mining companies.
Miss Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said the extractive industry was more than ever socially and environmentally conscious as well as responsible.
She said the industry would continue to find new ways to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs after mine closure.