Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and Gold Fields Ghana Limited have signed an agreement to usher in a new era of mining responsive to the needs of communities and intended to make mining operations effective.
The MoU was signed last Wednesday by Mr Bill Zisch, Vice-President Africa Operations of Newmont; Mr Allan Ashworth of Gold Fields Ghana and Ms Sharon Kromer of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is acting as an independent facilitator.
Tagged Ghana Responsible Mining Alliance, the MoU commits the two companies to ensure local capacity building for governance structures; provide economic opportunities for the indigenous private sector and promote best practice in mining in Ghana including areas of resettlement, compensation, reclamation, closure and security. The other areas of focus are human rights and community development.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, underscored the importance of the sector to national development saying, for the second year running earnings from mining overtook cocoa, representing 40 per cent of total export earnings.
The Mines Minister said mining raked in six billion dollars thus helping to cushion the impact of the high oil bill on the national purse.
Prof Fobih repeated Government's resolve to maintain a level playing field for mining in the country and urged other mining companies to join the alliance to make their operations more humane and increasingly acceptable to their host communities.
Mr Zisch said Newmont's objective was to ensure that mining created value, not only for shareholders and the nation, "but for our communities, the people who are the neighbours of our operations.
"Our involvement with and commitment to this Alliance is consistent with our values, which are demanding leadership in safety, stewardship of the environment and social responsibility."
He said Newmont would commit 5.5 million dollars and personnel over the next four years to the alliance with Gold Fields Ghana.
Mr Zisch said the Company was keen on bringing best practice into the industry, especially what not to do. "Mining is a controversial business everywhere. However, it is undergoing a radical transformation that would be good for the business, but more for the people on whom it impacts," he said.