The Minerals Development Fund Bill will soon be passed into law to emphasise Government’s commitment to boost infrastructure development in mining communities.
The bill makes room for the establishment of a mining community development scheme into which proceeds from royalty payments and development funds of mining companies and other sources would be paid
Speaking at the launch of the maiden Ghana Chamber of Mines’ Mining and Development Forum in Accra, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Mike Allen Hammah, said funds mobilized from the various sources would be used by local development committees for infrastructure projects in the mining communities.
He said the bill also prescribed guidelines for rolling out corporate social responsibility projects, set health and safety standards, tackle environmental issues and resolve issues relating to blasting activities of mining companies, among others.
To further ensure that an enabling environment is created for stakeholders in the mining industry to play their roles, Mr. Hammah said Government was putting in place regulations, including provisions for implementation of local content, which had been drafted to give full effect to the Minerals and Mining Act.
The regulations, which were currently before Parliament includes regulations on localization and local content to spur development by reason of its multiplier effects.
The Minister said, apart from the regulations ensuring that companies employ a reasonable level of the indigenes in the operational areas, it would also make mining operations transparent to the local people.
The Government will also boost infrastructure such as roads and railway lines, to help the industry to contribute adequately to the country’s development.
The Minister lauded the contribution of the mining sector to national development, and expressed the hope that the benefits of mining would far outweigh its detrimental impact on the environment, as companies seek to adopt more responsible mining practice.
Dr Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Mines, said the forum was in line with the Chamber’s quest to provide thought leadership for the solution of national issues related to mining, and to provide information on mining to the general public.
He said the Chamber was introducing a quarterly Mining for Development forum, to discuss and strategise how mining could serve as a catalyst for development.
The forum, he added, would also showcase and discuss the strategic partnership between the mining industry and Government in using mining as a tool for socio-economic transformation.
Dr. Aubynn said, currently, the industry accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and that mineral exports make up 41 per cent of total exports.
Mr. Ben Aryee, Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, said to increase linkages and ensure multiplier effects, the stakeholders had developed a database of goods and services required by the mining industry, and identified some local companies with capacity to provide the services.
He said the Commission was also working with the Chamber of Mines and mining companies to implement the localization policy to ensure that, the number of expatriate working in the sector was reduced to six percent from the current about 15 per cent.
Dr. Yao Graham, Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa, said efforts should be made to integrate and harness activities of small scale miners.
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