Ghana’s quest to add value to its mineral resources was given another boost yesterday with the inauguration of a $7-million gold refinery at Adjiriganor in Accra.
Sahara Royal Gold Refinery Limited has the capacity to refine a minimum of 200 kilos and a maximum of 300 kilos of gold daily.
This brings to two, the number of gold refineries in the country. The first, located at Mataheko in Accra, Asap Vasa Company Limited, has the capacity to refine 100 kilogrammes per day.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, who cut the tape to open the latest refinery, said although some gold and diamond were processed in the country, there were limited facilities to refine the gold and polish the diamonds.
Last year, Ghana produced a total of 4.4 million ounces of gold. Out of that, the small-scale sector, which is expected to feed Sahara Royal Gold Refinery Limited, produced 1.5 million ounces.
No value addition
Although Ghana is the second-highest gold-producing country in Africa after South Africa and has attracted a number of multinational companies, the mineral from such companies are not refined but exported mainly to refineries in South Africa and Switzerland.
The country’s two refineries can only refine gold produced by the small-scale sector.
That aside, the licensed gold and diamond buyers who buy these minerals also export them to other countries without value addition.
Nii Osah attributed the situation to the difference in the characteristics of the minerals and the technology required for processing them to meet international standards.
He noted that the country had lost out on by-products of gold refining, saying that “minerals have their associates. For example, gold is associated with silver and when gold is refined the amount of silver recovered is not known to be a product of Ghana”.
Nii Osah said given the volatile nature of prices of the mineral on the international market, the raw export of gold meant that whenever prices dipped, the shock was felt in the Ghanaian economy.
He said if all minerals mined in Ghana were processed locally and value added to them before export, more jobs would be created and ultimately more revenue would accrue to the state.
He said the establishment of the new refinery had proven that it was economically viable to set up a gold refinery in the country.
While urging management of the company to employ highly skilled people and motivate them to achieve high standards, Nii Osah also called on them to promptly meet their financial obligations to the state towards socio-economic development.
The Public Relations Officer of the company, Mr Chris Mensah, said Sahara Royal Gold Refinery Limited had invested in cutting-edge technology to ensure that products from the refinery met international standards.
“We deem this as the beginning of Sahara Royal Gold Refinery’s contribution to the establishment of Ghana as a reputable gold refinery centre in West Africa,” he said.
He said apart from the refinery, the company’s subsidiary—Prime Star Limited— was currently prospecting for gold at Atiwa in the Eastern Region.
Additionally, he said the company was looking at entering the jewellery market with its own products while at the same time ensuring that the country found value in the by-product of gold production which included silver.
Source: Daily Graphic
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