Mining has a role in national economy
Accra, Sept. 12, GNA - The Group Executive, External Relations for Africa and Europe of Newmont Gold Ghana Limited said on Monday mining was significant to meeting Ghana's development aspirations, but called for a concerted dialogue on the way forward.
Dr. Chris Anderson, who made the point during a media interaction in Accra noted that mining alone generated seven percent of Ghana's Gross Domestic Product and 50 per cent of its foreign exchange requirement.
The interaction was to out-door its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, Resettlement Action Plan, Public Consultation and Disclosure Plan and Independent Assessment of the Resettlement and Compensation Programme documents derived from the numerous interactions with the communities and the material made available to regulatory agencies.
Dr Anderson was answering a question that mining companies were rip-offs and not contributing enough as they were putting into the economies of countries in which they operate.
He explained that mining all over Africa and elsewhere had contributed more than enough in developing infrastructure necessary for development goals, saying that, a lot of things done in certain mining areas might not have been done without the role of mining companies. He noted that mining companies, district assemblies, chiefs, stools and governments needed to develop a basis for dialogue to resolve issues that had over the years bugged the minds of people and usually non-governmental organizations that seek to work on behalf of affected communities.
"Our operations have proved that things can work and communities can benefit immensely, as is the case, if stakeholders can approach development goals with purpose and determination," Dr Anderson said. He said if this was done, mining companies could meet the needs of their communities, while assisting in developing a concerted process to meeting set objectives.
Dr Anderson told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the decision by Newmont to lay bare its findings on all the engagements it had before construction begins, is " as a result of our experiences across the world and determination to be transparent in our operations." He suggested that it was important for stakeholders to generate newer means of achieving mining objectives in a more sustainable fashion, noting that it is the objective of Newmont to set fresh standards in the industry.
On compensation, Dr Anderson said a total of one million dollars for houses and 12 million dollars for crops had been paid out to communities in the southern portion of Ahafo where it was developing its first mine. The final payouts, according to Dr Anderson were based on existing crop compensation laws by the land valuation board and the baseline commitment on resettlements of the company.
"This was done by a committee of 40 facilitators, including an independent facilitator and field officers who determined how much should be paid after two years of exhaustive consultations with the communities."
Dr Anderson said about 5,000 people representing about 500 households were to benefit.
On how to deal with illegal miners, he said the government, the Ghana Chamber of Mines and the security agencies needed to work out a strategy to make them fall in line with the law. He told the GNA that Newmont was ready to work closely with small-scale mining companies in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme to make the work easy. Newmont Ghana Gold Limited started mine construction in April 2004 and is expected to commission its processing plant in July 2006. The Ahafo project was formalized on December 19th 2003 when it signed the investment agreement with government.