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26.04.2004 General News

Ghana’s Mining Industry Positioned for Growth

By Joe Mamphey

The Ghanaian Mining Industry has been advised to work with the Western University College, Tarkwa in identifying policy interests and proposing measures to government that will uplift mining education and research promotion in Ghana. This was contained in a speech delivered by Mr. Henry Antwi, an Australian based Mining Consultant.

Speaking on the topic “Challenges facing the Mining Professional in the 21st Century at the 2nd Western University College Alumni Lectures, Mr. Henry Antwi identified the environment and community relations as key challenges for Mining Professionals. He advised Mining Professionals to conduct detailed studies for deposits in the forest reserve and choose the most suitable mining method that impacts least on the environment. Mr. Henry Antwi cautioned that the implementation and monitoring phases should be well designed and should have the backing of the government, law enforcement agencies and local communities.

Achieving these milestones will ensure that the exploitation of minerals in the forest reserve proceeds with the backing of all stakeholders.

The Mining Consultant also emphasized that mining thrives best in a climate of cooperation among all stakeholders and therefore it is the responsibility of the government and the mining industry to ensure that they pursue mineral resource exploitation through efficient resource planning and the involvement of locals and traditional leaders.

Mr. Henry Antwi also commended the P/NDC and NPP Governments for reforming mining and investment laws which have allowed the mining industry to regain an importance in the country's economy, providing one of the most dependable revenue bases for the operational and capital funding of Ghana's economy. Despite the benefits of mining to the country's economic development, Mr. Henry Antwi re-iterated that mining projects in Ghana are sometimes isolated and have little linkage to the domestic economy. He therefore called on the mining industry to accelerate development of mining towns and have representation on town development committees to be able to ensure that budgetary allocations to mining towns are used for the benefit of the community. Mr. Antwi said, unless the community realises real development in mining towns, it is going to be a battle convincing the public for greenfield projects in mining.

Mr. Antwi stressed the need to identify issues affecting the small-scale mining sector and encourage government to inject the necessary human and financial resources for training, education and upliftment of the technical skills of small scale miners. He also called for the establishment of Resource Based Industries to ensure that Ghana processes its raw materials to the highest degree possible in its own territory. Mr. Henry Antwi used the occasion to advise students of the Western University College to learn about the dynamics of commodity markets, global economic conditions and be abreast with technological developments in the mining industry. He advised the students to uphold the values and professionalism instilled in them by the Western University College, become good ambassadors of the Mining Industry and foster understanding of community needs and expectations.

Speaking on the topic “Opportunities for Engineers in the Mining Industry in Ghana”, Mr. Peter Amponsah Mensah, a Mine Manager at Ashanti's Obuasi Mine mentioned that the mining industry offers employment to many, including various engineering professionals such as Mining, Geotechnical, Geological, Geodetic, Environmental, Metallurgical, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers. He stressed that large-scale mines (including mechanized quarry operations) employ over 30,000 workers while an estimated 100,000 of the population is in small-scale production of gold and diamonds as well as production of industrial minerals like kaolin, sand and gravel.

Mr. Peter Amponsah Mensah reiterated that Ashanti Goldfields contributes a colossal quantity to the gold mining sector in the country and may serve as the barometer of Ghanaian mineral industry. Hence with the Anglogold Ashanti merger in process, Ashanti is now poised to evolve into the creation of global giant in gold mining. The merger between Ashanti and AngloGold is thus seen as part of an evolution process that will create synergies for expansion and growth and also maximize the potential of the company's assets base for its workers, shareholders and the other stakeholders. He mentioned that one of the major aims of the merger is the empowerment of the employees to enable them produce more and thereby earn more. It is also expected that the merger will produce a Combined Group with a significant growth potential, operating strength and investment appeal.

Mr. Peter Amponsah Mensah mentioned that AngloGold, Ashanti's partner in the merger has indicated that it is committed to the recapitalisation of the existing Obuasi Mine, as well as continuing and accelerating the exploration at Obuasi deeps. The investment of USD 220 million in the existing Obuasi Mine over the next five years to December 2008 is anticipated to improve underground working conditions and increase efficiency. While the benefit of this investment is anticipated by AngloGold Ashanti to be a reduction in operating costs and therefore improved profitability, it is possible that the investment may also result in a marginal increase in gold production. In this regard the new company will require the services of quality engineers. According to Mr. Amponsah Mensah, the 21st Century is characterized by a fast pace of technological advancement, competition and the achievement of product or service that is of value and the mining industry is no exception. The presence of AngloGold Ashanti, Goldfields Limited, and Newmont, which are all multi-national companies with mines in several countries will position Ghana's mining industry for expansion and growth and thus maximize their competitive advantage and chances of leadership in the industry.

On behalf of the Australia Ghana Investments Company (AGI Pty Ltd.), Mr. Charles Agyeman Manu, an Assistant Director of Australia's Defence Department and a founding director of AGI donated Two Million cedis towards a student's research on mining and sustainable development. Present at the function were the Chief of Asenaman Kotoko Division Wassa Fiase Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Anomako III who chaired the function, representatives of the mining industry, students and lecturers of the Western University College and media houses.

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