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12.08.2004 General News

Gov’t challenged over mineral royalties

By Chronicle
Gov’t challenged over mineral royalties
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Tarkwa, Aug. 12, Chronicle - The managing director of Anglogold Ashanti Iduaprime mine, Mr. David Rainer, has called on the government to come clear on what it has been doing with the mineral royalties paid to her by the mining companies and the benefit the people at the grassroots have been getting from it. He said though year in and out the mining companies had been paying billion of cedis in the form of royalties to the government, the communities in which the mining companies are operating are still agitating against them for doing nothing to help them. According to him, he could not completely blame the people for this agitation against the mining companies because the billions of cedis they are paying in the form of royalties appeared not to have been felt on the ground in the form of projects for them to know the benefits they were getting from the mining activities on their lands.

Mr. David Reiner made the call when he briefed a two-member delegation from the Council of State that was on tour of the Tarkwa mining area to acquaint themselves with the operations of the mining companies.

The visit, which was led by Nana Prah Agyeinsem VI, would also enable them to advise the president correctly on mining related issues.

Reiner further told the delegation that ever since the Anglogold Ashanti Iduaprime mine was established, the company had paid total royalties of $17.7million to the government, adding that last year alone they paid a whopping ¢23 billion to the government as royalties.

Apart from this, he continued, they had also been meeting their social obligations to the communities they were operating, but still pressure on them was unbearable.

He said they had constantly been receiving letters from the district assembly, other organizations and individuals soliciting monetary help from the company to tackle development projects in their catchment areas at the time that they had paid such huge sums of money as mineral royalties to the government.

David Reiner through the visiting Council of State members, appealed to the government to investigate the disbursement of the mineral royalties paid by the mining companies to see if they are fairly distributed to benefit the communities where the mining activities were going on.

He said if the investigation proved that the royalties were being judiciously and fairly disbursed but was still not felt on the ground then those responsible for the disbursement must be held accountable so that the mining companies would also be free from agitation against them.

The managing director also denied that the mining companies were polluting water bodies in the Tarkwa mining district.

According to him, lands in the Tarkwa district contained a lot of manganese and iron and therefore water from sunk wells became brownish when it stayed for some time.

He said though such water was not harmful, the people tend to believe that it was mining companies that were causing it.

He told the Council of State members that his management was working hard to introduce a simple treatment mechanism to treat the water before its consumption by the communities.

Nana Prah Agyeinsem, on his part, said though the money paid by the mining companies as royalties to the government was very huge the quantum was reduced drastically by the time it trickled down to the grassroots.

He therefore called for the review of the distribution system and the enterprises that received them.

He however condemned those who had been putting so much pressure on the mining companies to help, when they had been paying all their taxes to the state.

According to Nana Prah, who is also the chief of Assin Kushia in the Central Region, there are other countries who might be offering a better incentive than Ghana to woo investors and warned that if the unnecessary pressure on the companies was not stopped, Ghanaians themselves would be driving away investors.

Nana Prah, who was accompanied by Dr. Owusu Ansah as the other member of the Council of State on the delegation, also visited Ghana Manganese Company (GMC) at Nsuta, Goldfield Ghana Limited, Tarkwa mine and Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL).

Also on the trip was Ms. Joyce Aryee, chief executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, and Brigadier R. E. Baiden, the Commissioner of CEPS.

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