Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia says the government is putting measures to stimulate job creation in an integrated and inclusive manner throughout the gold mining value chain.
He said the integrated and inclusive chain would bring together large scale, small scale and sustainable community miners, as well as other stakeholders such as refiners, purchasers, and sellers of jewellery to increase the value derived from gold.
Vice President Bawumia said this in his keynote address at the Ghana Gold Expo 2021 Ghana Mining Week in Takoradi on Thursday.
The two-day forum brought together key stakeholders, including the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mining, large and small scale miners, traditional rulers and members of the Diplomatic Corps, to deliberate on a sustainable path for Ghana’s gold industry.
Speaking on the challenges in the mining sector and measures being taken to address them, Vice President Bawumia said: “It is well-known that the rise in illegal mining has, no doubt, been fuelled not only by unemployment but also by the desire of the average community members to have a feel of the minerals.”
“In this regard, the government is putting in a lot of measures to stimulate job creation in an integrated and inclusive manner throughout the entire gold mining value chain.”
“I am reliably informed by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources that 20 Community Mining Schemes have begun, each employing about three thousand (3,000) persons. We expect to have a hundred such schemes by the end of the year, and with each employing 3,000, it will make a significant impact in addressing unemployment in mining communities.”
“The government is providing them with equipment and new technology that requires very little water, sometimes just a barrel, to extract the gold from the ore using zero mercury or cyanide.”
That was sustainable mining that addressed galamsey, and with ready buyers such as the Bank of Ghana and the local refineries that were being set up, Vice President Bawumia said.
“We can confidently say we are building an integrated, inclusive gold industry,” he said.
Vice President Bawumia said artisanal small scale mining accounted for 50 per cent of Ghana’s gold production.
The Bank of Ghana, through the newly introduced Gold Purchase Programme, would focus its purchasing attention on the sector to strengthen macroeconomic management and shore up the cedi with real gold backing, he said.
“Ghana is Africa’s largest gold producer, having overtaken South Africa in 2019. But the Bank of Ghana holds just 8.7 tonnes of physical gold in its reserves. For nearly three decades, almost 60 years, we have not added an ounce of gold to our reserve holdings. In comparison, Ghana’s gold reserves are equivalent to only 6.9 per cent of South Africa’s gold reserve holdings of about 125.3 tonnes,” the Vice President said.
“Thus, the decision by the Bank of Ghana in June 2021 to implement a Gold Purchase Programme is a very welcome one. The benefits are enormous, and we can only hope and encourage the Bank to continue with this initiative.”
The setting up of local refineries by the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), and Gold Coast Refinery, Dr Bawumia said, would further broaden the market for sustainably mined gold, fill in a missing part of Ghana’s extractive sector while seeing to the growth of local refining.
On expenditure leakages, he said the private sector was being supported to build its capacity and reverse the significant expenditure leaks from the domestic economy through the importation of several tools and equipment, which Ghana could produce.
“We are equipping the private sector in ways to fill these leakages and build capacity for such production locally.”
“We are doing this by working closely with industry and academia, like the University of Mines, to equip young professionals with the skills required to operate competitively in the sector and perform innovative researches.”
With all of those measures falling into place, the Vice President said the future of the country’s gold mining sector was bright.
Vice President Bawumia believed that structured efforts of integrating the mining industry would propel local industries and the entire mining value chain to create jobs to develop the economy.
He said Ghana could not continue to be merely exporters of just minerals and other raw materials but had to add value to them to maximise profit.