Goldfields Ghana Limited (GGL) has commissioned experts to conduct a feasibility study into the establishment of palm plantation and oil mill processing plants in the Wassa-West district of the Western Region. If the study proves to be successful, the company will commit $20 million (about ¢180 billion) into the project to serve as the main economic activity for the people in the area after the folding up of the mine.
The general manager of the company, Mr. Johan Botha, disclosed this when the newly appointed Western Regional Minister, Mr. A. E. Amoah, went on a two-day familiarization tour of the mine last Thursday.
According to the general manager, GL had taken the decision to set up the plantation and also construct the oil mill because they did not want Tarkwa to become a ghost town when the mine ceases operating in the near future.
Mr. Botha told the Minister that apart from this ambitious project they have decided to pursue if the feasibility study proves successful, they have also embarked on a number of development projects to improve the standard of living of the people.
He said since 2002 to date, his company had spent over ¢48 billion to construct schools, clinics, roads, provide portable water, among others, for the communities they operate in.
Touching on the company's contribution to the national economy, Mr. Johan Botha said every month, his management pays $4million as corporate tax to the government in addition to other statutory taxes that ran into several millions of dollars.
Total volume of gold exported at the end of November last year also stood at over $280 million.
He revealed that in their attempt to increase the gold production and boost export revenue, management had imported mining equipment worth over $800 million, which they have already started using.
The general manager however said that recent fuel price increments by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has really affected their operations, as these increases were not budgeted for. According to him, due to the fuel price hikes their fuel cost to the company has increased by 40 %.
On what they are doing to reclaim the land they have degraded, Botha assured the Regional Minister that management was doing their best to position the land in good condition.
He however admitted that not all the holes could be filled, adding, "This is the negative side of mining".
Mr. A. E. Amoah congratulated the company for its numerous projects in the communities in the Tarkwa area, and their sponsorship of the Black Stars to the World Cup.
He was however unhappy with reports that some of the mining companies had engaged in conflicts with the communities they operate in because of non-compliance with terms agreed upon.
He thanked GGL for avoiding such conflicts and hoped that other mining companies would emulate their example.
Amoah also appealed to the communities surrounding the mine to stop unwarranted agitations that would lead to conflict. The mining companies, according to him, needed a peaceful environment to work in and gain more profit to help the communities also.
Present at the briefing was the corporate affairs manager of the company, Dr. Toni Aubyn.