Tarkwa (W/R), Nov 03, GNA- Ghana expects to earn about 929 million dollars from gold production this year, President John Agyekum Kufuor said on Wednesday.
He said about 750 million dollars was realized last year and about one billion dollars is expected in 2005.
President Kufuor said this when unveiling a plaque to inaugurate an 85 million-dollar Carbon-In-Leach (CIL) processing plant for Goldfields Ghana Limited (GGL) at Tarkwa in the Western Region.
The CIL plant is capable of recovering about 96 per cent of gold from the ore.
President Kufuor said the contribution of the mining sector to the economy remained one of the most significant and in the last three years, the mining sector had contributed about 40 per cent of the country's export earnings.
He said with the recent new and large investments from Newmont and AngloGold Ashanti, the mining sector was poised to make significant contributions towards the attainment of the Golden Age of Business.
President Kufuor said the Government had decided to broaden the mining base of the country to include industrial minerals such as limestone, manganese, silica sand, natural gas, clay deposits, iron ore and bauxite.
He said the intention was to add value to some of these minerals through down stream processing. "This partly informed the Government's decision to purchase the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO)".
"We are now on the verge of establishing an integrated aluminium industry which will process our bauxite into alumina and subsequently aluminium", he said.
President Kufuor said such investments would bring great transformation in the country through employment and the development of infrastructure such as roads, railways and other ancillary industries. He said some international companies had expressed interest in the country's iron ore deposits and the West African Gas Pipeline Project and this is most opportune since these integrated industries were energy-intensive.
" These positive developments are taking place because of the business-friendly policies and attitude of the government. I assure the mining companies, local and foreign investors that our business-friendly policies will continue for as long as this government is in power," he said.
President Kufuor commended the Company for investing about 500 million dollars for the past 10 years to transform it from a moribund mine into a vibrant and profitable venture.
He said with the infusion of an additional investment of 194 million dollars, the company would move the Company to new heights in the country's mining sector.
Mrs Cecilia Bannerman, the Minister of Mines, appealed to the mining companies to assist in the development of infrastructure to create more conducive environment for their operations. She said 20 companies applied for gold exploration in the country last year and 20 other companies had established joint ventures with local companies for further exploration.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister said the Company had demonstrated its goodwill to the country and continued to be socially responsible to communities in its catchments area. He appealed to investors to invest in other sectors such as the rubber, oil palm and coconut industries.
Goldfields limited owns GGL with 71.1 percent shares, 18.9 percent by IAMGOLD Corporation, a Canadian company and the Ghana Government 10 per cent.
It acquired the Tarkwa underground mine from the State Gold Mining Company on July 1, 1993 for three million US dollars and a commitment to complete a feasibility study on the open cast potential of the leases. A further condition of the deal was that GGL would continue to operate the small, inefficient underground mine for five years but with the establishment of the CIL plant its life span has been increased to 20 years.