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Ministry, Chamber Of Mines At War Over Royalties   
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Sharp differences have emerged between the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ghana Chamber of Mines (GCM) over the quantum of royalties which should be paid to mining communities.

While the chamber contends that the royalties are woefully inadequate, the ministry believes that the amount of royalties paid is not the issue but how judiciously it is used for the benefit of the mining communities.

The issue came up strongly at a meeting of the Expanded Council Meeting of the chamber at Elmina in the Central Region last Friday.

The meeting, which was attended by mining companies and regulatory agencies in the mining sector, discussed challenges in the mining sector and how to overcome them.

The President of the GCM, Mr Dan Owiredu, said the current royalties paid to mining communities were a minute fraction of what was paid to the government.

But the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Henry Ford Karmel, said how the communities used what was currently paid was the problem. “It is about transparency with the disbursement,” he said.

Making a case for increasing the royalties paid to the communities, Mr Owiredu said it was the opinion of the chamber that the government increase the current 5.5 per cent of royalties paid by the mining companies to mining communities. “We consider this amount woefully inadequate for the stimulation of infrastructural development in the mining communities,” he said.

He said because the government did not pay much to the communities for development, the people did not feel the impact of mining in their communities.

They, therefore, ultimately placed the blame at the doorstep of the mining companies, a situation which, he said, often created tension between the mining companies and the communities.

Mr Owiredu reiterated the chamber’s call on the government for 30 per cent of the total royalties paid to be returned to local communities over a specific period of time and argued that such payment should be tied to specific infrastructural projects in order to accelerate development in the communities.

The Chief Executive Officer of the GCM, Dr Toni Aubynn, said an increase in the royalties paid to communities was likely to reduce tension between them and the mining companies.

He called on the government to ensure that all efforts were made to reduce the adverse effect of increases in taxes, such as corporate tax and the newly introduced windfall tax, on the mining sector.

Presenting the government’s view, Mr Karmel said the usage of what was currently paid the communities was the problem.

He indicated that much could be done with what was currently paid as royalties if that money was used for the specific development projects for which the royalties were allocated.

He said it was time to intensify education in the mining communities to ensure that leaders, both traditional authorities and the district assemblies, were held accountable by the people for the royalties they received.

Mr Karmel said the issue of illegal mining had become a security issue which required huge funds to bring under control and called on the mining companies to support efforts at getting the activities of illegal miners well regulated.

He urged the companies to ensure that they helped the government to promote a sustainable mining industry in Ghana.
Source: Shirley Asiedu-Addo/D-Graphic

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