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04.06.2008 Business & Finance

Veep garners support for small scale mining

By The Statesman
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The Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama has urged mining companies and non- governmental organizations to support legal small scale mining to improve employment for Ghanaians in that sector.

He explained that, though the activities of illegal miners especially on legally acquired concessions of companies has been one of the key challenges to the mining industry, the promotion of legal small scale mining will reduce the negative activities of "galamsey" operators.

The Vice President was speaking at the opening of the 8th West African International Mining and Power Exhibition Conference under the theme, "development through mining and power: A shared responsibility".

He said due to the government's policy of economic liberalisation, an enabling environment for private sector growth has been created and the mining sector has been one of the specific immense beneficiaries of this policy.

He pointed out that, world class mining companies such as Goldfields, Anglogold Ashanti and Newmont as well as 'junior' ones like Randgold, Redback and others have all been attracted to Ghana due to the prudent policies pursued by government and the positive commodity price environment and pledged governments continued partnership with the private sector to bring more improvement to the economy.

He stressed that, during this period, minerals production especially gold, has increased tremendously making the sector the highest foreign exchange earner for the country and figured that since 2001, there has been a steady rise in the price of gold from an average of 270 Dollars per ounce to 520 Dollars in December 2005 and further peaking to 630 Dollars per ounce as at May 31, 2006.

The conference is tailored to address the various challenges confronting the industry to ensure that the continent benefits tremendously from mining.

He said that, the West African Gas Pipeline will be a major boost in solving the much required energy needs of the mining sector and urged stakeholders to take advantage of the conference to discuss their preparedness to receive and utilize the power when it arrives.

"We as a country have a shared responsibility to ensure that there is adequate energy to power not only the mining industry but all sectors of the economy. There is also the recognition that neither government nor the private sector can single handedly provide for these."

He further hinted on how the country is endowed with rich natural resources, many of which are yet to be tapped including oil. "It is our collective responsibility to harness these resources for the benefit of our people." He stated.

He also touched on government's belief in collaborating with the rest of the countries in the sub-region in order to derive more benefits from our mineral resources

The Veep advised mining operators to add value to their minerals to enable them to integrate it with the rest of the local economy and urged for various deliberations aimed at coming up with suggestions for the down stream processing of our various minerals.

On the bill to speak at the conference on topics such as corporate social responsibility, sustainable development in the mining industry and the synergy between mining, energy and development include the Dr. Toni Aubynn of Goldfields Ghana, Stephen Baffoe of Newmont Ghana, Erika du Plessis of Golder and Associates.

The rest are Christian Rampa Luhumbwe, Vice President of Anglogold Ashanti, West African Division, Mr. Kweku Awotwi and Jabesh Amissah- Arthur.

The three day exhibition and conference is supported by the Ministries of Energy, Mines, Lands, the Minerals Commission as well as the Ghana Chamber of Mines with support from the governments of Mali, Nigeria, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sierra Leone and Senegal. It will also focus on a wide range of issues that have risen in the mining industry in the sub region.

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