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28.06.2005 Business & Finance

Mining Sector receives boost from EC

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Accra, June 28, GNA - Ghana and the European Commission (EC) on Tuesday signed three contract agreements valued at more than 258 billion cedis to improve the mining sector and enhance its contribution to the country's economy. The contract agreements are on Airborne Geophysical Survey, Geological Mapping and Environmental Impact Assessment.

The amount is part of an 80 million euros earmarked for Ghana by the EU under the Country's Strategy Paper and Indicative Programme to support her in times of emergency and to help mitigate adverse effects of instability in export earnings. Out of this amount, 40 million euros was for the Mining Sector Support Programme. The EU and Ghana signed the financing agreement in 2002.

Ghana is benefiting from the facility because of the fall in gold prices and the serious energy crisis experienced by the country between 1997 and 1998, which caused substantial loss of revenue.

Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei, Deputy Finance Minister signed for Ghana while Mr Wim Olthof, Charge d'Affaires of the European Commission, signed for the EC.

The airborne geophysical survey of the Volta River and the Keta Basins involves a search for diversified mining resources using modern remote sensing and airborne geophysical technologies. The survey would provide a framework for future mineral exploration and ground water resources. Under the Geological Mapping contract, the EU would train and equip the Geological Survey Department to apply modern digital mapping technology.

The Environmental Impact Assessment contract would address the effects of large-scale mining operations and the future consequences of mine closures throughout the country as well as the rehabilitation needs of the local communities. The execution period of all the three contracts is 2005 to 2008. Dr Akoto-Osei asked the Department to apply themselves diligently to the assignments to enable them to carry out similar projects on their own. He called for intensive consultation and involvement of the local communities in decisions on the effects of mining.

Dr Akoto-Osei expressed the hope that the contracts would be implemented on time to ensure that the country derived the best from it. Ms Theresa Tagoe, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, said to sustain the achievements made in the mining sector modern geological infrastructure needed to be developed and new laws promulgated as well as institutions strengthened. Mr Wim Olthof called for the judicious use of the funds on the project to make the maximum impact.