Accra, June 11, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday called for a shift in the role of mining companies in the development of the economy.
He said: "As mining becomes a more dominant feature of the Ghanaian economy, so your role in the formulation and implementation of national development strategy has to evolve."
The President said this in a speech read for him by Mr J. H. Mensah, Senior Minister, at the 76th Annual General Meeting of the Ghana Chamber of Mines being held under the theme: "Mining, A Catalyst for National Development".
"Perhaps you have learnt to be reticent in the years of decline in the mining industry, today you are called to play a more forward role in building and implementing the national consensus on development," he said.
President Kufuor urged the mining companies to deepen their cooperation with other sectors of the economy as inputs suppliers, subcontractors and outsourcing service providers in their operations. "We expect to see new areas of collaboration and ventures such as the establishment of jewellery enterprises in the country."
President Kufuor lauded the arrival of new companies such as Newmont and AngloGold Ashanti and their contributions and said: "These developments have stimulated the interest of international investors in Ghana's mining sector and should hopefully result in further expansion in the industry in the country.
"Mining companies are encouraged to use the banking facilities within the country for both their domestic and foreign transactions because this can bring potentially, a large and positive impact on Ghana's balance of payment," he said.
The President applauded the adoption of the Alternative Livelihood Programme as part of companies' social responsibility to provide mining communities with facilities to improve livelihoods.
President Kufuor pledged the Government's continual commitment to providing the most congenial economic, legal and technical environment for the mining industry to thrive.
Mrs Cecilia Bannerman, Mines Minister, urged mining companies to cede part of their concessions to the state for re-assignment to small-scale miners as part of efforts to ward off "Galamsey" activities. She said as a top priority to arrest the problem posed by such illegal mining operators, the Ministry was going create a concession for small-scale miners, which would help to convert them to regular operators.
Mrs Bannerman said as part of the strategies to reposition and reaffirm Ghana as a mining destination, the minerals and mining law was being revised to make the sector more competitive.
She said the Government was keen in reviewing the formula for determining mineral royalties as well as the mining companies' desire for transparency and accountability in the disbursement of mineral royalties so as a to ensure that such incomes positively affected the generality of the host communities.
Mrs Bannerman mentioned the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and said the Government would create the forum to discuss every concern with the appropriate stakeholders including the mining companies.
Giving an overview of mining for the part year, Mr James Kwamena Anaman, President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said the sector achieved marginal growth of 4.7 per cent in 2003 as against 4.5 per cent in 2002.
He said the sector contributed in no small measure to Ghana's achievement of the impressive performance of 3.9 months import cover for the first time in 13 years in 2003 leading to the relative stability of the local currency in that same year.
Mr Anaman said despite the marginal gains in 2003, the coming year appeared to be a watershed in the recent life of mining industry adding: "This year it is expected that the new Mineral and Mining law would be passed."
He said the new law when passed would introduce a fiscal regime that would assist Ghana to continue to reclaim its position as a mining destination of choice in Africa.