Accra, May 27, GNA - Mr Mike M. Ezan, President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines (GCM), on Friday urged the Government to increase the level of investment in infrastructure in mining communities. Addressing the 77th Pre-Annual General Meeting of the GCM, Mr Ezan noted that mining companies had since 1993 contributed about 12 per cent of all Internal Revenue Collections and contributed 125.5 billion cedis as corporate social responsibility to host communities in 2003 alone. The figure represents 60 per cent of the Minerals Royalties paid for the same year.
President John Agyekum Kufuor attended the Pre-Annual General Meeting that also saw Professor Dominc Fobih, Minister of Lands Forestry and Mines, mining captains and Chief Executives of Mining companies in Ghana.
Mr Ezan said the mining industry was fully aware that it was only through responsible social behaviour and due consideration for the environment that its employees and communities in which it operated would obtain the indispensable social licence necessary for the sustainable mining operations.
Outlining the performance of the industry in the past year, Mr Ezan said gold producing companies in 2004 rode on the healthy price of gold to make significant contributions to the nation's economy despite the high face of input prices.
This, he said, was precipitated by increase in diesel price, which was based on import parity, adding: "The average Brent crude price increased from 29.4 dollars in 2003 to 38.2 dollars in 2004, an increase of 30 per cent underscoring the increased cost of diesel to mining companies."
He described the mining sector's performance as mixed despite the firming of the gold price in 2004.
"Most of the gold mining companies were unable to take advantage of the healthy price of the metal to increase production and by extension mineral revenues," Mr Ezan said He attributed the situation to the lags in mine developments as well as plain technical and operational problems that adversely affected production.
Mr Ezan said with the exception of Gold Fields Ghana, almost all the country's major mineral producing companies recorded lower outputs compared to the previous year, significant among them being AngloGold Ashanti Group, which saw its production drop by almost 12 per cent. Manganese, however, produced a shine, changing the gloom but at a much lower rate.
Prof Fobih said the Government accepted its responsibility as a strong partner and it was "committed to creating the enabling environment to propel the mining industry as the most attractive in Africa".
He announced that the Mining and Minerals Bill would soon be placed before Parliament.
Prof Fobih urged mining companies to ensure that they added value to the metal while encouraging the rationalization of the role of small-scale mining companies.