Power: We’ll Pay More If… - Mining Companies Tell Govt

Mining companies in the country have said they are prepared to pay more than what they currently pay for electricity provided the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) will exclude them from load shedding.

Currently, mining companies pay higher rates than domestic consumers.

The companies have also expressed their willingness to support government to find lasting solutions to the worsening power crisis.

Speaking on behalf of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr Sam Kobina DeSouza, Director of Regional Risk Management and Power at Newmont Ghana, said the load shedding is impacting mining companies negatively, with dire consequences for the nation.

Mining companies are now shedding more of the power they consume as part of efforts to manage the country’s deteriorating energy crisis.

The firms now shed 30% of electricity from the initial 25% agreed last December.

This means the mining companies would virtually be shutting down their operations every two days, but it is unclear how this could ease the ongoing load shedding for consumers and other businesses.

Dr DeSouza explained that the load shedding, which has been extended to industries and mining companies, has dire consequences for job security as the companies have no choice but to lay off workers.

He stated that community development projects being undertaken by mining firms may also be halted, which would impact mining communities negatively.

Dr DeSouza noted that mining companies pay their electricity bills on time; therefore, there was no reason to include them in load shedding.

He wondered why ECG would continue to supply power to institutions hugely indebted to it.

In 2007, a consortium of mining companies constructed an 80 megawatt power plant at a cost of more than US$45 million.

Known as the Mines Reserve Power Plant, it was used by mining companies only in load-shedding situations.

At the time, the country was facing a supply shortfall of more than 300MW.

The four mining firms which constructed the plant were Newmont Ghana Limited, Goldfields Ghana, AngloGold Ashanti, and Golden Star Resources.

When the load shedding subsided in 2008, the plant was made available to the VRA to supplement any energy generation shortfalls in the country.

Currently, the country faces a shortfall of between 400 and 650 megawatts.

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) last week called for a short-term time-based action plan to reduce the energy deficit in order to resolve the current energy crisis.

The call follows the unprecedented negative growth in manufacturing in 2014.

Manufacturing recorded the worst growth rate in recent memory of a negative 8% in 2014 as the sector continues to shrink.

The AGI fears that Ghana risks losing its industrial base if government policies do not quickly address these challenges to revive the industrial sector.

The AGI is also calling for complete institutional reforms of the operations and management of entities responsible for the entire power sector.