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02.09.2004 Business & Finance

Stable policies attract $400m into mining sector

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Tarkwa (W/R), Sept 2, GNA - Provision of a stable environment and good economic policies have attracted an inflow of approximately 400 million dollars of foreign direct investment into the mining sector from 2001 to 2003.

The Government will continue to pursue policies that would attract more investment into the sector by supporting efforts being made to review the legal and fiscal regimes for the mining sector.

The Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama said these in speech read for him by Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, at the opening of a three-day national mining conference at Tarkwa today.

The conference, which was under the theme: "Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility in Ghana: Extending the frontiers of sustainable development", brought together 350 participants from civil society, representatives from mining companies and traditional rulers.

Vice President Mahama said the entry into the mining sector recently by world class companies like Anglogold and Newmont indicated the right and most appropriate policy direction of the Government to continue to attract worthy investors into the country.

He said currently, a new minerals and mining bill to replace the existing law, made in 1986, was before Parliament for review. Vice President Mahama said Government had initiated measures to ensure part of royalties paid by mining companies was used for the development of the communities.

He said the introduction of Transparency Initiative by British Government in September 2002 underscored the appropriate policy direction of the government.

The Vice President said Government would ensure that the large deposit of limestone, iron, ore and kaolin in the mining areas were exploited to the benefit of the people.

Alhaji Mahama challenged the investors both local and foreign to enter into the exploitation of these lesser minerals.

He said Government support for the mining sector has led to the significant increase in mineral exploitation over the year adding gold production increased from about 54 metric tonnes in 1997 to about 71 metric tonnes in 2003 and Manganese production increased from 896,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to 1.6 metric tonnes in 2003.

Mrs Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines, said the Government was taking steps to stimulate other non-mining economic activities that could sustain economic life of mining communities after the closure of mines to prevent the emergence of "ghost towns after cessation of mining."

She said in order to make use of excess labour in Prestea, the Ministry through the President's Special Initiative on Oil Palm, facilitated the establishment of a 50-kilometre radius Oil Palm project in the mining communities in Prestea and Huni-Valley.

She said the pilot project would be replicated in other areas effected by mine closures and without alternative livelihood.

Mrs Bannerman said: "it is expected that these alternative livelihood opportunities will drive away galamsey operators from their hazardous operations."

She the Ministry is taking measures to support small scale mining within a legal frame work by licensing illegal small scale miners and encouraging them to form co-operatives.

"This will enable them to be regulated and be given both technical and financial support to operate in a safe sustainable manner and make a good living".

Professor Komla Dzigbodi-Adzimah, Vice Principal, Western University College of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Tarkwa, expressed the hope that the scope of sustainable development would be extended to the University so that it could provide teaching, research and other services towards the development of mining industry.

Nana Pra Agyensaim, a Member of Council of State, said in the last 12 years gold production has moved from under one million ounces to about 2.2 million ounces, Bauxite increased by about 50 per cent, Diamond production increased from 100,000 carats to 930,000 within the same period.