Wednesday, February 29, 2012

US$200m for Obuasi mine

AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) says it expects to transform its Obuasi mine, which in recent years has undergone decline in production output, with US$200million of investment this year.

“Obuasi mine, the country’s biggest underground mine, is a high-cost producer and has never produced beyond 300,000 ounces in recent years. Obuasi remains the key outstanding issue from 2011,” Mr. Peter Anderton, Senior Vice President, AGA (Ghana) told participants at a stakeholder’s forum.

Mr. Anderton said: “The transformation will cover modernising and expanding its underground processes with new equipment. This will significantly reduce downtime of equipment, improve safety, and expand development of ore reserves. It will also speed up ore extraction, as well as improve recoveries to increase gold production.

“Obuasi has great ore body and together with the stakeholders, such as the people in the communities, the government, security agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the traditional leaders, the competitiveness of the Obuasi mine will be restored.
“AGA has strong, experienced and knowledgeable leadership -- though transforming the underground mine will not be easy.”

Mr. Anderton said the company’s values enjoin management not only to fix the challenges of Obuasi to ensure increased gold production, but more significantly actively work in concert with the communities and the municipal authorities to physically develop Obuasi as a safe and liveable municipality.

“One of the areas that we can help is to create alternative jobs, through the private companies operating in Obuasi and our own sustainability efforts,” he remarked.

B&FT has gathered that a high-level special taskforce -- ‘The Obuasi Taskforce’ -- has been formed for a 12-month period to fast-track additional corporate funding and external resources to support and define the long-term turnaround strategy for the Obuasi underground operation.

The objective is to accelerate the refurbishment and improve operational stability at the Obuasi mine. This is to ensure that the work done will be linked to the long-term strategy for Obuasi to provide sustainable outcomes for AGA’s stakeholders.

The work of the taskforce has also been expanded to ensure the delivery of maximum ounces and create a world-class operation.

AngloGold Ashanti gold production for 2010 was 4.52million ounces -- of which about 11% came from the Obuasi and Iduapriem mines, though Obuasi was challenged by restricted ore passes and unplanned plant shut-down for maintenance of the tailing-dam facility.

The Ghana mines produced just over 502,000 ounces, of which Obuasi contributed out 317, 000 ounces with Iduapriem making up for 185,000 ounces.
Year-on-Year Consumer Price Index, January 2011 to January 2012

Month - Year percentage

January – 2011 9.1
February – 2011 9.2
March – 2011 9.1
April - 2011 9.0
May – 2011 8.9
June – 2011 8.6
July – 2011 8.4
August – 2011 8.4
September – 2011 8.4
October – 2011 8.6
November – 2011 8.5
December – 2011 8.6
January – 2012 8.7

Integrate audio conferencing -- Veep

The Vice President, John Mahama has said Forum Network Limited’s audio conferencing service needs to be developed and integrated into the national platform to enhance business growth in both public and private sectors of the economy.

“The platform can be integrated into the national system, and should be accepted by the business sectors to help institutions in both the public and private sectors to maximise the benefits of interactions conducted to help cut cost and time used by businesses in travelling to meetings,” said the Mr. Mahama in an audio press conference.

Mr. Mahama was speaking to over 50 journalists on the platform hosted by Forum Network Limited, developers of the facility, as part of the official launch in Accra.

Audio conferencing is a technological system that allows many people to be joined together on a mobile phone call to talk, listen and exchange ideas. It can allow up to 1,000 participants to share slides and presentations through a free screen-sharing service.

It also allows participants to call into church meetings and listen to preaching live, or into conference, press conference and part take in discussions.

Mr. Kwesi Amoafo-Yeboah, Chairman of the Forum Network Limited, at the launch said: “Audio conferencing among other things allows people in remote locations to interactively collaborate and work more effectively and efficiently without the need to be face-to-face,”

He said with forum audio conferencing, business colleagues located in remote areas could get together and work on projects and assignments without moving from where they were.

Mr. Amoafo-Yeboah said forum audio conferencing could be applied in the areas of business, governance, politics, education and religion.

“In education, our phones have become classrooms for distance-learning, remedial classes and other knowledge services. Student leaders located in various parts of the country can now get together as often as they want without moving from their respective locations.

“We feel this is a good time for this kind of solution in the country because it is providing the opportunity for business, family, religious and social meetings to be done electronically at very affordable rates from the comfort of their homes and offices,” he stated.

Samuel Menyah Asah-Kissiedu, the Product Manager for Forum Network, said people can access the service by visiting or by sending forumgh, your name, your email address to short code 1945 and get a special MTN phone number and access code that members of one’s group can use to participate in audio conferences.

He cited that apart from the normal call rates, there are no hidden charges for using the service.

“The service is not the exclusive preserve of the elite or for corporate Ghana, but for small trade groups like drivers’ groups, spare-parts dealers, market women associations, farmers groups, fishermen’s associations and many more, plus families and even professional groups and religious organisations,” Asah-Kissiedu remarked.

GTBank leading the e-banking platform

The banking industry is steadily moving towards attaining a slip-free operation to offer superior and convenient services and to be ahead of competition in the delivery of financial services, Ekow Essabra-Mensah writes.

The convenience of electronic banking (e-banking) has gradually dispelled the earlier held notion that banking is about brick and mortar, and actual banking business could only be transacted within the confines of premises of banks.

Today business of banking has become virtual, and benefitted the ordinary customer in general and the corporate world in particular - and this has resulted in the creation of a better enabling environment that supports growth, productivity and prosperity.

This development ensures that banks do not have to keep their branches open 24-hours a day to provide this service. This is one of the biggest advantages of the e-banking platform.

Development in e-banking platform is the way forward for the country’s changing face in the banking sector. The new strategy in banking now is electronic banking, wherein banks are assiduously developing technology for online transaction processing in which the customer can go directly into his or her account.

Mr. Ben Ackah-Mensah, Head, Corporate Affairs at Guaranty Trust Bank (Ghana) Limited disclosed that, as part of GTBank’s innovative corporate strategy, it has initiated a number of electronic banking products and services aimed at embracing the new order in banking system and also ensuring easy banking transactions, which are more convenient and have become an acceptable module in global financial transaction.

GTBank’s e-banking platform

GTBank offers a wide range of electronic banking products/services differentiated for specific needs and developed with the goal to provide superior ease and convenience for customer transactions. For the bank, also, the wide range of electronic products are proportionate to the bank’s branchless banking retail strategy, which does not limit banking services to normal banking hours or the Bank’s branches only.

With GTBank’s electronic offering, customers are equipped to carry out several transactions on their mobile phones, manage accounts on the internet, or use any of the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) on the bank’s branch or offsite network across the country.

Internet Banking

Guaranty Trust Bank's Internet Banking service is an online and real-time banking service, offering both individuals and businesses a range of banking services and account management tools that are timely, accurate, reliable and flexible.

The facility has been developed with superior features of Account Balance& Transaction Inquiry, Own and Third Party Transfers, Cheque Confirmation, Cash-in-transit, Bank Drafts request, Cheque Book request etc.

It enables clients access their accounts from anywhere in the world to view and verify transactions on accounts, check balances and account activity, transfer funds between own and another GTBank customer account. Clients can also print statement of accounts and confirm cheques or request cheque books, make standing orders, request for Drafts etc.

To subscribe, clients only need an account with GT Bank, a reliable email address and internet access and telephone line. With these they can begin to gain operational and financial control over their personal or business accounts - either from the comfort of their offices, homes, or anywhere else in the world.

Slip-Free Banking

The Guaranty Trust Slip-free process is a service that offers Convenience. It is an innovative process that takes the burden of filling withdrawal or deposit slips away from the customer.

This product offers convenience since the burden of filling withdrawal or deposit slips is taken away from the customer. It reduces the time customers spend in the banking hall. Customers can now spend less time in the banking hall.

SMS Banking

A cell phone is not just a cell phone any more. At Guaranty Trust Bank you can monitor your account with your GSM phone anytime, anywhere.

With the SMS Banking product clients will be able to view account balance(s), Track transactions on account(s), transfer funds between accounts and transfer funds to another persons account.

It comes with enormous banking benefits including safe and convenient transaction, its saves customers time and effort of going to branches, it is as well cost effective .This service is available 24 hours a day.

Guaranty Trust Money Transfer (GTMT)

West Africa Just Got Smaller – Transfer money with ease and speed. As part of GT Bank’s orange convenience, anywhere, anytime, banking services, the bank has introduced the Guaranty Trust Bank Money Transfer (GTMT).

The GTMT is a web based platform on which customers and non - customers can receive or send money from GTBank subsidiaries in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia and plans are underway to bring onboard the GTBank subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and Liberia on to the platform.

With the launch of this new solution, the public can now transfer money conveniently at trusted locations with superior service levels to all GTBank locations in the West African Sub-region. This would increase mobility for trade, leisure, education and personal purposes within the various countries in West Africa.

Clients and the general public can now conveniently transfer money from about 144 locations with ease and speed.

China Union Pay Cards

Guaranty Trust Bank (Ghana) can presently boost of smooth business transaction with its Chinese customers and the general public with the its ATMs now being accepted in China UnionPay Cards.

Chinese residents in Ghana, travelers, students and businessmen and women with China UnionPay cards can now use them on any GTBank ATM at all times to withdraw cash and check their account balances.

GTBank Visa Cards

Guaranty Trust Bank Visa Card is a range of Visa Classic and Visa Electron Chip Debit Cards tailored to suit every lifestyle. Visa Gold Card, Visa Electron International, Visa Electron Domestic and Students Discount Visa Cards are the four main types of cards.

Chip cards or ‘Smart cards’ are the latest technology in payment cards, making electronic payment very secure, faster and more flexible. Smart cards carry a microchip, which gives it that enhanced security feature which makes it nearly impossible to be skimmed by fraudsters. In addition, the data contained on a smart card is encrypted, preventing unauthorized access to personal account information. This gives Cardholders peace of mind.

Visa Gold Card

Visa Gold Card is one of Visa International's premium cards issued to High Net worth Individuals with exclusive life styles. Gold symbolizes quality and prestige as well as Convenience and choice.

Visa Electron International Card

GTBank Visa International Card is a Visa Electron chip Card issued to professionals and business executives who travel outside the country. Payment for hotel bills, air tickets and general purchases can be made by the Visa Card. This Card can be used on any Visa Branded ATM or Point of Sale Terminal worldwide.

Visa Electron Domestic Card

The GTBank Visa Electron Domestic Card is a debit card uniquely designed for usage only in Ghana. It is the fastest and safest way to get cash from any Visa ATM and make payment for goods and services at any merchant location displaying the Visa logo nationwide.

Students Discount Visa Card

These are discount cards with Visa enabled functions which allows for usage on all Visa ATMs in the country. Holders of the Student Discount Card are entitled to great discounts at a number of merchant outlets including clubs, clothing shops, eateries, bus terminals, and supermarkets.

Benefits of GTBank Visa Cards

Wide Acceptance: Cards are accepted on over 11,000 Visa ATMs and 22 million Visa Point of Sale Terminals worldwide for payment of goods and services (excludes Visa Domestic Cards).

Cards are chip based with all cardholder information encrypted. A transaction can only be authorized with the correct PIN. This restricts unauthorized use of the Visa card.

Cash withdrawal and other ATM transactions can be made at any time of the day offering 24hr access to cash. It is simpler than writing a cheque or making payment with cash.

Transfer of money can be made from one GTBank Visa card to another or in between accounts if the card is linked to two or more accounts.

Each purchase or withdrawal is recorded automatically on the client’s monthly bank statement, helping cardholders track and manage their expenses.

GTBank Automated Payment System
GTBank Automated Payment System (GAPS) is a web-based solution that facilitates the processing of payments in batches using a secure connection over the internet.
GAPS Provides an efficient means of effecting payments to contractors, vendors, suppliers, employees of companies, etc.

Excellent information resource providing online real-time account monitoring and instant value to GTBank’s beneficiary account holders; this comes with an improved transaction processing time.


The GTBank Debit MasterCard is an international payments card, issued in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide to enable our customers withdraw cash from over 1.5 Million Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), pay for goods and services at MasterCard labeled Point of Sale (POS) Terminals worldwide as well as make payments on the Internet

The Card is directly linked to your Current or Savings account thus all transactions done using this card are reflected on the account instantly in real time.

Guaranty Trust Bank with its strategic alliance with the world’s leader in payment brands is able to also accept other Mastercard brands including Maestro and Cirrus Cards on all its ATMs and POS terminals across the country.

Online Cheque Confirmation

The GTBank Online Cheque confirmation service, allows customers to confirm all cheques above GHS3,000 issued from the comfort of their offices and homes.

The service is accessible via the Bank’s robust Internet Banking platform. It only requires customers to log on to its secure Internet Banking site and provide the details of the cheque and submit. This is then transmitted immediately to the bank alerting the officials of the confirmation, thus allowing the cheque to be paid immediately upon presentation.

This innovative solution protects the customer against cheque fraud as well as ensure faster customer service delivery throughout its banking halls.

15,000 cocoa farmers to undergo training

Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business is to train 15,000 farmers and support cocoa farming communities over the next four years in the Ashanti and Western Regions.

The programme collaboration with Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) underlines its continued support for the country’s cocoa farmers and the development of the cocoa sector, and is also targetted at expanding Cargill’s sustainable cocoa programme toward an extensive commitment to farmer-training in the country.

COCOBOD targets purchasing 800,000 metric tonnes of cocoa in the 2011/2012 crop season, and the local buying companies are confident of sailing over the one million metric tonnes mark when the season closes in June this year.

The Cargill sustainable cocoa programme ensures a better life for cocoa farmers and their families and strengthens the cocoa supply-chain for the future, exercising responsible environmental stewardship.

The programme increases farmer incomes through efficient cocoa production. It offers tangible customer solutions which enable them to join Cargill in the journey toward a sustainable future for cocoa.

The training is expected to be delivered in partnership with licenced cocoa-buying company Akuafo Adamfo, a subsidiary of the Finatrade Group of Companies, and the non-governmental organisation Solidaridad West Africa.

Kojo Amoo-Gottfried, Managing Director of Cargill Ghana, said: “Helping farmers adopt better farming practices so they can improve the quality and size of their yields is a central part of the Cargill sustainable cocoa programme.

“In farmer field-schools, farmers will receive extensive training to help them rejuvenate cocoa farms and apply best agricultural practices related to pest-control, harvest and post-harvest practices.

“Over the next four years, these training activities will help Ghanaian cocoa farmers to achieve better results and benefit from achieving UTZ certification.”

The target for the first year is to train 5,000 farmers to become independently certified. By 2016 the programme aims to have significantly improved agricultural practices adopted by farmers and farmer organisations.

Throughout the programme, agricultural extension officers from the Ghana Cocoa Board will receive coaching to act as facilitators in order to provide farmers with guidance and best-practice examples.

The certified cocoa beans will be processed at Cargill’s state-of-the-art cocoa processing plant in Tema and can be traced throughout the supply chain as they become Gerken’s Ghana cocoa powders – used by food manufacturers worldwide.
From certified farmer to final product, Cargill is developing a fully traceable and sustainable cocoa supply chain in Ghana.

Mr. Amoo-Gottfried explained that the initiative will cover social issues like raising awareness of HIV and the importance of schooling for children.
“Crucially, the programme will help strengthen farmer-organisations and encourage knowledge-sharing amongst cocoa growers. All training will be in accordance with the UTZ Certified Code of Conduct.”

Anthony Fofie, Chief Executive of the COCOBOD said: “We are pleased to see that Cargill is investing in sustainable cocoa farming practices in the country, and is strengthening its current efforts.

“This new programme of farmer-training will complement our existing initiatives and assist in our development of the industry, by improving the lives and living standards of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.”

The launch of farmer-training in Ghana complements Cargill’s successful farmer-training activities in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Vietnam, and underlines Cargill’s belief that training farmers successfully is key to building a sustainable supply chain as well as helping increase farmers’ incomes and supporting the future growth of cocoa farming.

African Real Estate awards launched

The African Real Estate and Housing Finance Academy (AREHF) has officially launched its maiden awards in Accra, aimed at recognising remarkable players in the real-estate and housing finance sector across the African continent and the critical role the industry plays in the provision of shelter for humanity.

The awards, under the theme ‘Discovering and Celebrating Excellence’, are expected to draw participants from both public and private sectors of various African countries and will showcase operators who have engaged in significant real-estate and housing transactions that have had a positive social, economic and physical impact on the continent.

The awards ceremony will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, is scheduled for March 29-30, 2012, and will provide a networking platform for all the real-estate players within Africa.
It is expected that the country’s real-estate developers, architects and housing finance providers will compete against players from the rest of Africa for the awards being introduced in Africa for the first time.  

Mr. Roland Igbinoba, Director AREHF, speaking at a media interaction in Accra explained that the awards will have no monetary reward, but will be a recognition meant to celebrate the work of African real-estate developers.

He said the awards will seek to expose the world to the huge potential of the sub-sector in Africa and attract investment.

“It will serve as a motivation to real-estate and housing developers who have put in commendable effort in growing the market in Africa, and to challenge other operators.

“The academy founded the awards ceremony to appreciate those who have put in reasonable and measureable efforts in boosting the real-estate and housing finance market in the African region.

“Nominations for the award will be a contribution to innovation and creativity that translates to economic development and wealth-creation, environmental sustainability, and demonstrable public good,” said Mr. Igbinoba.

“With 12 distinctive award categories, we want to discover and celebrate real-estate and housing finance players in the region,” he remarked.

The award is sponsored by prominent international firms -- Pison Housing Company, the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, the African Real Estate and Housing Finance Academy, Shelter Afrique and the HFC Bank (Ghana) Ltd.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Higher agric investment pushed

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has proposed increased investment in the agricultural sectors of various countries in the sub-region to ensure food security.

“There should be greater investment from local, national and international contributors towards ensuring the provision of improved seeds and other agricultural supplies and equipment to farmers for expanded cultivation of food-crops.

“This can increase access to food, with a positive impact on the nutritional status of the most vulnerable population,” Mrs. Maria Helena Senedo, Assistant Director-General, Regional Representative for Africa, FAO, told B&FT in Accra on the sidelines of a three-day special training session for 15 FAO representative countries in the West African sub-region.

Mrs. Senedo said: “The overall goal of the sub-regional office for West Africa (SFW) is to achieve by 2015, sustained rural poverty reduction and food security through a broad-based growth based on agricultural production, productivity and diversification as well as household incomes, with focus on smallholders and vulnerable groups while thoroughly addressing the pervasive gender inequalities, marginalisation of minority groups as well as the inequalities between territories, areas and countries.”

Mrs. Senedo disclosed that the meeting will focus on analysing opportunities and need for capacity building of decentralised authorities, sub-regional organisations, national representation and institutions.

This will enhance the FAO West Africa Office’s operational and managerial capacities for informed programme-planning and effective delivery. It will as well review emerging challenges in funding, food availability, accessibility and other agricultural issues as well as the issue of climate change.

The training session aims to discuss critical issues, challenges facing the sub-region in relation to the various crisis and food security, and brainstorm on best approaches within the medium- and long-term to ensure dealing with the situation.

Mr. Musa Saihou Mbenga, sub-regional coordinator for West Africa, FAO, observed that in spite of a few pockets of success recorded, West Africa remains home to the poorest and most malnourished of the world: Agriculture and the food sector provide 70% of the sub-region’s full employment, one third of the GDP, and 40% of export earning; but up to 44% of the world’s 32 countries with the lowest Human Development Index, approximately 38% of the world’s 34 least developed countries, are in West Africa.

He revealed that the FAO Africa is currently undertaking different pilots in the region: such as the cassava value-chain development in Ghana and DR. Congo, as well as maize in Uganda and Angola, with the view to better tailor, reinforce and reorganise its operations in the field.

“It was important that a multi-disciplinary approach was adopted for programmes and to identify priority areas of action for the organisation in the sub-region so as to ensure food security,” Mr. Mbenga remarked.

Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, in a speech read on his behalf, indicated that the country has initiated projects targeted at ensuring food security -- especially in conflict and crisis areas.

“The projects will help alleviate poverty among vulnerable groups that might suffer as a result of conflict and in cases of disaster.

“The imminent Sahel food crisis is putting several millions of lives at risk. It requires from each of us an immediate and vigorous preparedness and response. If not adequately addressed this crisis will be worse than the 2005 food crisis, causing significant asset and human capital loss and jeopardising all the development achievements capitalised to date.”

Newmont appoints new Regional Vice Prez – African Operations

Newmont has announced the appointment of David C. Schummer as the Regional Senior Vice President for its Africa Operations.

Taking over from Jeffrey Huspeni, he brings invaluable expertise and leadership to the Africa Region including the proven ability to build effective multi-national teams, improve workplace culture, and deliver operational results.

Prior to Dave’s appointment as Regional Senior Vice President, African Operations, he served as Vice President, North American Operations, and over the years has held a number of leadership positions in Newmont. Prior to the role in North America, Dave also led the establishment of Newmont’s global Business Excellence programme.

“Exhibiting leadership in safety, environmental stewardship and social responsibility are values Newmont takes seriously.

“We will continue partnering with our key stakeholders, including the national and local governments and our local communities, to ensure the safety of our employees and the environment we operate in while providing job-opportunities and economic development for the host communities of our operations,” Mr. Schummer said.

Dave Schummer’s appointment ensures Newmont Ghana’s continued drive to achieve its vision to become the most valued and respected mining company through industry leading performance.

Monday, February 20, 2012

GIPC woos investors

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) has officially launched the 2012 Africa Investment Forum.

The forum under the theme ‘Partnering with ECOWAS to Accelerate Investment into the sub-region’ is organised in collaboration with the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and the ECOWAS Commission, and is scheduled from the 3rd-4th April 2012 at the Accra International Conference Centre.

Over 600 business leaders from the sub-region and the Commonwealth are expected to attend the forum targetted at harnessing and facilitating economic development and creating an enabling business environment for investors in the West African region.

Mr. George Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of the GIPC, told journalists that the country’s growth rate is a testament to the its solid economic fundamentals which are on offer to investors .

“With a robust commodities sector and a stable political environment, along with a dynamic financial industry and an improving fiscal record, our country has enormous potential to offer investors interested in Africa,” he said.

“Furthermore, with the increasing volatility of the Western markets, Africa is now increasingly becoming a preferred investment destination of choice. What is more inspiring is the progress made towards regional integration to create larger markets, enhanced competitiveness and improving infrastructure.”

Mr. Aboagye explained that the forum will provide an unprecedented opportunity for senior policy-makers, corporate executives, investors and investment promotion agencies to meet and interact through a series of sessions, networking and social exchanges.

“There will be four plenary sessions on regional trade, public private partnership, agribusiness and food security, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and micro-financing.

“There will be nine business roundtable engagements on finance, natural resources, energy, tourism, private equity, manufacturing, telecom and transportation. The forum will also provide an opportunity for one-on-one business meetings to discuss issues of mutual interest.

“Particular emphasis will be placed on the new opportunities for investors in the West African region and how these can be harnessed to facilitate economic development,” he said.

Mr. Aboagye added: “The event comes in the wake of Africa’s transformed image as a preferred destination for investment and the soaring number of Emerging Market Funds with African interests.

He revealed that the Centre will also team up with the Oxford Business Group (OBG) for the second consecutive year for its forthcoming publication, Ghana Report 2012.

“The GIPC is the government agency in the country tasked with encouraging, promoting and facilitating investment into the country.

“The key role that the country’s rapidly-expanding service sector is expected to play in driving economic growth will be mapped out in a new report to be published by the OBG.”

He indicated that the Report will additionally chart the contribution that oil production and commodity wealth made to the country’s double-digit growth rates achieved in 2011. It will also contain a detailed sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, alongside a contribution from President Atta Mills and interviews with prominent political, economic and business leaders.

The Country Director of the OBG, Ms. Polina Virr, explained: “The Ghana Report 2012 will disseminate information on all sectors of the Ghanaian economy to the whole world.”

Stability shields ...the uneven impact of new mining taxes

Questions of equity are beginning to emerge over tax-hikes in the mining industry as companies wielding so-called stability agreements appear to be protected and less aggrieved.
At least two miners, Anglogold Ashanti and Newmont, have signed such agreements with the government that freeze taxes, royalties and other conditions over 10-15 years, and have said they do not expect to be immediately affected by the new rules.

Anglogold Ashanti Limited, which signed a stability agreement with the state in 2004, has said it will not scale-back planned investments at the Obuasi mine, its biggest operation in Ghana, despite the tax-changes -- which include an increase in the corporate tax from 25 to 35 percent, a windfall-profit tax of 10 percent and changes to capital allowance rates.

The company says it expects to invest at least US$150million for a second year in the mine. Obuasi has had a difficult last few years with output shrinking and costs rising, but Anglogold believes it will remain fecund for at least the next 30 years.

“We’re committed to Ghana in the long-term so we’ll continue to invest, but we’ll continue to engage government,” said Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Anglogold’s Vice President (Ghana) in charge of corporate affairs.

When early indication of the government wanting to review the mining regime and contracts was given two years ago, Newmont’s CEO Richard O’Brien said the company had reminded the government of its stability pact, but was nonetheless “willing to “talk”.

Meanwhile, there are more than 20 large-scale companies that cannot seek solace in any stability agreement, and are subject to any changes or new rules that come into effect in the industry.

Gold Fields, which operates the Tarkwa and Damang gold mines, said in the wake of the tax-hikes that planned investments worth about US$1billion at the mines could be dealt a deathblow by the new development.

But shedding light on these initial comments, made by chief executive Nick Holland in Johannesburg, the company’s head of corporate affairs in Ghana, Mrs. Pamela Djamson-Tettey, said the miner is having to reassess its plans because, unlike others, it is “directly exposed” to the hikes.

“We need to look at [Gold Fields’ position] in the context of the mining regime in Ghana. Some of the mining companies have stability agreements that protect them, but Gold Fields does not have such an agreement with the government. Therefore, Gold Fields is exposed whenever there is new legislation or new taxes are introduced,” she said.

More biting, in respect to Gold Field’s capital-injection plans, according to Mrs. Djamson-Tettey, would be the lower capital allowance rate of 20 percent for five years, from 80 and 50 percent at different periods in the past.

“That specifically impacts on project work, and it’s going to impact our plans so severely in terms of the feasibility and viability of future projects,” she stated.
While its initial action is going to be unevenly felt within the industry, the government has already put together a seven-member team to renegotiate stability agreements in the industry.

“[Your] first task is to review and re-negotiate any part of a stability agreement between the Republic of Ghana and any mining company that is not in the best interest of the country,” Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor told the team at its inauguration in Accra last month.

The team, led by academic and jurist Prof. Akilagpa Sawyerr, will be assisted by a local resource team and advised by international mining experts in discharging its duties.

Anglogold has said it is yet to be contacted over the review of its stability agreement, and will not react now in order not to pre-empt any future event.

“These [stability] agreements are binding in international courts, and it’s not likely that the government will succeed in changing them,” said one industry source not willing to be mentioned.

According to Addo-Kufuor, Anglogold’s stability agreement was legally procured, and he said he believed there is mutual value in it for the state and his company.

But the government has often said it is not getting a fair share of miners’ profits and revenues, which have soared during the last decade as gold and other metal prices spiked to record levels.

“What we are looking for is a win-win situation in which mining companies and the people benefit equally,” Duffuor said.

Yet, Dr. Toni Aubynn, chief executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, has blamed the country’s inability to devise a “comprehensive vision” and framework for local participation in the industry’s value-chain for its failure to derive maximum benefits from mining.

“The best way to keep the mining industry as an integral part of the country’s economy is to put in place deliberate and sustained local-content and capability-development policies, backed by legislation and enforcement mechanisms -- and not just resorting to appeals or pleas to mining exploration and production companies,” he said.

In a new study published this month on the industry in West Africa, the World Bank said both governments and companies need to do more to expand the benefits of mining to communities. It reckoned the industry would have a bigger impact on economic growth if companies purchased more equipment, supplies and services from locals.

Countries have to enact policies that encourage local procurement, while helping locals to be able to utilise the opportunities, the bank said. For their part, companies will have to give fair access to locals to opportunities and provide information to communities on their procurement needs.

The bank said, also, that regional economic blocs could promote cross-border procurement by harmonising incentives and taxes linked to activities in the industry’s supply-chain.

Ghana is taking such steps, Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Mike Hammah has said, with new regulations already finalised to boost participation of locals in the industry.


Edikan mine starts commercial production

Perseus Mining Limited has begun commercial production at its newly acquired Edikan Gold Mine at Ayanfuri in the Ashanti Region, which it hopes will maximise the company’s earning position.

Perseus has planned an initial production rate of between 220,000 to 240,000 ounces of gold per year at an estimated average cash cost of US$650 per oz. The company aims to increase gold production to 400,000 ounces of gold per annum from 2013.

The Managing Director of Perseus, Mark Calderwood in releasing its half year results ending December 2011, said the successful commercialisation of the Edikan Gold Mine, which began gold production in August last year, will now impact greatly on the company’s financial results.

“During the six months to 31 December 2011, the Edikan Gold Mine achieved our planned operational targets and as a consequence we were able to declare “commercial production” with effect from 1st January 2012. This means that future announcements of financial results by Perseus will include disclosure of not only production statistics but also relevant information on costs and earnings from Edikan.

“In terms of guidance, after the expected ramp-up of production at Edikan in the first-half of current year 2012, we expect to be producing gold on target during the second half of 2012. Second-half gold production rates should be in the order of 135,000 to 145,000 ounces at an average cost of US$550 per ounce, which compares favourably with our industry peer group,” he said.

Production ramp-up period for the Edikan Gold Mine, formerly Central Ashanti Gold project, has been longer than anticipated as a result of a number of “teething” problems encountered during the commissioning period, which include water pumping limitations and related issues; fine-tuning of equipment settings, procedures and maintenance programmes; and training and management of the locally recruited and relatively inexperienced workforce.

After 19 weeks of opening the Edikan Gold Mine, Perseus’s management formed the view that the operation is performing substantially as management intended, and beginning this year the Company declared that work on the mine was complete and “Commercial Production” status had been achieved.

As a consequence, the Company ceased capitalising expenditure associated with the Edikan Gold Mine on 31 December 2011.

Consequently, Perseus is now in a position to provide guidance as to likely production performance at the Edikan Gold Mine during the balance of the calendar year 2012. Gold production for the calendar year 2012 is forecast to be in the range of 220,000 to 240,000 ounces at an estimated average cash cost of US$650 per oz.

According to Perseus’ balance sheet, the Group’s net assets increased during the period by US$99.217million to US$311.601million.

Cash and cash equivalents increased by US$34.993million to US$131.455million. In addition, the Group held gold bullion valued at US$5.117million as at 31 December 2011.

The Perseus Mining Group, which is considered one of the aggressive mining exploration firms in West-Africa, owns a 90% interest in the Edikan Gold Mine while the remaining 10% interest in the Mine is a free carried interest owned by the Ghanaian government.

Perseus Mining, which is considered one of the aggressive mining explorative firms in West-Africa, sees the Edikan Mine as one of the two key projects it has embarked on -- the other being the yet-to-be producing Tengrela Gold Project in Côte d’Ivoire.

According to the company’s half year balance sheet, during the period, the Group spent $17.081 million on exploration programmes in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire aimed at increasing its inventory of Mineral Reserves and Resources.

Perseus in July 2009 completed a definitive feasibility study on developing a mine and associated treatment facility to recover gold from tenements located near Ayanfuri in the country. Based on the positive outcome of that definitive feasibility study, construction of the Edikan Gold Mine and associated processing facility commenced in June 2010.

The first gold pour and the first revenue received from the Mine took place during the period of August 2011 and September 2011 respectively.
During the period, a total of 6,553,000 bcms of material was mined from the Abnabna, AF Gap and Fobinso open pits -- including 3,028,000 tonnes of ore grading 1.02 g/t plus 5,280,000 bcms of waste.

Overall gold recovery of 79.4% resulted in the recovery of 45,832 ounces of gold, of which 43,736 ounces of gold were poured. Of this amount, a total of 35,774 ounces of gold was sold at a weighted average price of US$1,666 per ounce.

Meanwhile, Perseus in its half year results has announced a net profit after tax of US$13.68million for the six months ended 31 December 2011, representing a significant increase relative to the loss of US$42.426 million recorded in the corresponding period in 2010 when a one-off hedge loss was recorded following the adoption of hedge accounting.

The result has particular significance in that it represents Perseus’s final period of reporting as a pure exploration and development company. Future financial results by Perseus will include the revenue and operating costs associated with the Edikan Gold Mine.

Mr. Calderwood explained that profit earnings of the company for the period exclude either the operating costs incurred or the revenue earned by the Edikan mine, as “commercial production” was only declared at the beginning of this year.

“While it’s pleasing to be able to report a net profit for the first-half of fiscal year 2012, we do note that the profit earned in the reporting period doesn’t include the revenue or the operating costs associated with the Edikan Gold Mine that were capitalised during that period,” he said.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eying another MCA

Ghana is looking to qualify for the next phase of the Millennium Challenge account, regarding which discussions are already on-going.

Mr. Alan J. Patricof, Governor of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) council, told B&FT that the country has been re-selected and is now fully engaged in the process toward a new compact that will power and accelerate the economy’s development process.

“Discussions are on-going between the MCC and the Ghanaian counterparts which has a lot of involvement in the phase II of the project, and there is a general positive feeling to include Ghana for the second time due to the successful execution of the first phase,” Mr. Patricof disclosed.

Mr. Patricof explained that discussions are now at the preliminary stage, which will involve the public and the private sectors effectively communicating with the MCC to determine what they would like to be included in the second phase of the agreement.

He expressed delight for the successful implementation and execution of the first compact of US$547million which was exhausted on several infrastructure projects including 247 school blocks around the country, two ferries to facilitate transportation on the Volta Lake; and for many in here in Accra, the magnificent 14-kilometre N1 Highway that was handed over to the government on Wednesday.

With the signing of the Compact, MCC agreed to make available to Ghana a grant of half-a-billion dollars to enable the nation implement the programme and achieve the agreed objectives within the Compact term of five years.

The Compact entered into force on 15th February 2007 and ended on 16th February 2012 with the goal of reducing poverty through economic growth in the country, led by agricultural transformation.

The process toward execution of the compact programme envisaged the integrated and simultaneous development of three key activities: Agriculture Projects, Transportation Projects, and Rural Development Projects, with the objective of ensuring attainment of the Compact’s goals.

The two-fold objective of the programme is to increase the production and productivity of high-value cash and food staple crops, and also to enhance the competitiveness of country’s high-value cash and food crops in both the local and international markets.

Under its transportation project, the objective is to reduce transportation costs affecting agricultural commerce at the sub-regional and regional levels in the country in support of the agriculture project. Two transportation models, road and maritime, are targetted.

Besides the 357km of Feeder Roads which have been rehabilitated, MCC funds have also been applied to the upgrade of the N.1 Highway, construction of Trunk Roads and provision of Ferries, under the broader Transportation Project.

Residents in rural areas, who are predominantly farmers, have spotty and frequently poor access to basic community services such as potable water, community sanitation, schools at all levels and domestic electricity. This has a serious effect on productivity and has limited the country’s ability to realise the full potential of its agricultural resources.

For this reason, the rural services development project has been designed to address existing gaps and to strengthen the rural institutions that provide complementary services to communities in beneficiary Districts in a coordinated fashion.

MCC funds totalling US$77.72million have been used to support the following Project activities: Procurement Capacity Building, Community Services, and Financial Services.

Mr. Eson-Benjamin, Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Development Authority, said: “As we draw down the curtain on the 5-year Programme, I would like to report that we have applied the entire US$547million and kept the programme whole and integrated despite two major re-scoping exercises in 2008 and 2009, necessitated by input-cost increases.

“We have certainly gained the respect and trust of the donor, the United States of America, represented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

“We see all these as the dividend Ghana has gained from its commitment to implementing successfully a programme that demands results and leads to uplifting the lives of our less privileged relations, mainly the farmers, who have taken up the responsibility for feeding the nation but who, by and large, live in darkness with no access to clean water and sanitation facilities, no roads, schools, clinics, and organised markets for their crops.

“They are underserved by banks and rely primarily on only one rain-fed cropping season to support their livelihood. We call these potential business persons peasants, but they are the people whose collective successes and contributions will add to our GDP and maximise our country’s value as a middle-income economy. These smallholder farmers and their communities were the focus of the 5-year MCA Programme.”

19 courier companies blacklisted

The Postal and Courier Service Regulatory Commission has revoked the licences of 19 courier companies operating in the country.

The affected companies, either failed to utilize their licence, defaulted in payment of license renewal fees or were placed under liquidation.

By the revocation, the affected companies cannot undertake or engage in courier operation in any part of the country.

Samuel Kojo Intsiaba, Executive Secretary of the Commission said: “The decision follows the failure of the affected companies to comply with the conditions of licence in accordance with Section 21 of the Postal and Courier Service Regulatory Commission Act,2003( Act 649).

“The Commission reiterates its resolve to ensure strict adherence to Act 649 while protecting consumers against poor quality of service.
“The Commission is therefore remaining all courier operators to take necessary steps to regulate their operations or risk sanctions.”

The affected companies are DPS Company Limited, Eda Express Services Limited, Beacon Logistics Limited, Speedlink Cargo Services Limited, and Bridge Direct Company Limited.

The rest are ;World Express International Limited, BKB Courier (Ghana) Limited, 1st Choice Express, A-Men Express Limited, Euni-manuel Company Limited, Box Express Limited, US Ghana Express Limited, Black Star Courier Services, Inter-Global Limited and MS Ex Limited.

The others includes; Tramsco Shipping Limited, Liqure International Limited, Cross Ocean Agencies Limited and TNT Express Worldwide.

Gov’t assures IT sector

Information Technology Association of Ghana (ITAG) has been outdoored with the assurance of providing the enabling policies to enhance business growth and for the transformation of the country’s social, economic and political development.

“Information Communication Technology (ICT) was an important tool that would enable professionals from all sectors of the economy to improve on their productivity for national development.

“Improving business communication is a critical mass for the transformation of the country’s
Social, economic and political development of every country. This positions the practitioners and professionals to contribute towards the growth of human capital in creating a knowledge industry and economy.

“The industry is driven by private sector and that government will help provide the enabling policies to grow the sector,” Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications, said this at a ceremony to officially outdoor the Association in Accra.

Speaking under the theme: ‘Building a Network of IT Professionals for Accelerated National Development,’ said “government's commitment to provide an enabling environment for professionals in the IT industry to operate.”

He urged the IT professionals to contribute to the debate on the biometric voters register to improve electoral processes in the country.

Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor, the Interim President of ITAG explained that the successful outdooring of the Association for practitioners and professionals of IT would enable the engagement of human capital in creating a true knowledge industry and economy.

Mr. William Tevie, Secretary of ITAG, said the government’s programme of ICT for accelerated growth and commitment to developing IT resulted in the setting up of the National Information Technology Agency.

He said the agency was tasked to ensure that ICT was used to enhance growth in all aspects for the economy.

Mr. Tevie said the Association also aimed at providing a forum to share ideas and best practice, seeking common interests and standards and providing a better understanding of the environment in which practitioners operated.

Monday, February 13, 2012

MASLOC to distribute 600 taxi cars

Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) will, this year distribute over 600 vehicles on hire-purchase basis to taxi-drivers and other commercial drivers under its Vehicle Hire Purchase Scheme, its Chief Executive Officer Bertha Ansah-Djan told B&FT.

The scheme is targetted at empowering individual drivers, especially the youth who belong to taxi and drivers’ unions, to own their vehicles after paying the loan facility within a four-year period. It is also to support the productive unemployed professional drivers who want to own their taxis.

Already, MASLOC has provided 500 vehicles to drivers who have started paying by installments to be completed within four years.

Mrs. Ansah-Djan disclosed that the Centre has partnered with the National Drivers’ Academy to organise training programmes that will help drivers be courteous and decent to clients including,especially, foreigners.

“Beneficiary drivers will receive training on the importance of car maintenance, proper dressing and grooming, and best passenger relations.

“Taxi-drivers are the first port of call to tourists, and there is need for drivers to be properly groomed to bring out the best in them and improve on their performance.”

Mrs. Ansah-Djan said the training will also help the drivers to cultivate the habit of returning passengers’ valuables left in their vehicles to bring respect and dignity to the country in the eyes of foreigners.

The Centre will also institute tracking systems that report all drivers who misconduct themselves, she said.

“The repayment of the facility will be flexible to ensure that the beneficiary drivers will be financially responsible for car maintenance and routine mechanical servicing; they are to partronise only approved service centres authorised by MASLOC,” Mrs. Ansah-Djan explained.

Government this year has earmarked GH¢35million for MASLOC’s operations to enable it disburse loans to small businesses in supporting the value chain processes under its small-scale credit schemes.

As of July 2011, GH¢15.2million had been disbursed to 31,793 customers as loans -- and with close monitoring, the Centre successfully recovered 95 percent of the loans disbursed as at June 2011.

Anglogold stays the course ...despite tax-changes

Anglogold Ashanti Limited, Africa’s biggest gold producer and third in the world, says it will not scale-back planned investments at its Obuasi mine despite the wave of industry tax-changes that kick-off this year.

The company says it expects to invest at least US$150million for a second year in the Obuasi operation, its biggest in the country, which in recent years has suffered from higher costs and a decline in output.

Meanwhile, Gold Fields, the world’s fourth-largest gold producer, has said that planned investments of US$1 billion at two of its mines in Ghana were in danger of being cancelled over changes to taxes.

Profit taxes in the industry have been hiked to 35 percent in addition to a windfall tax of 10 percent, in a move the government says will partially equalise the benefits of mining between the country and companies.

Gold prices have reached new records in recent years, but the country has not benefitted enough from the windfall, Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, said when he outlined the measures in November 2011.

“We’re committed to Ghana in the long-term so we’ll continue to invest, but we’ll continue to engage government,” Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Anglogold’s Vice President (Ghana) in charge of corporate affairs, told the Business & Financial Times.

He said the miner has been “explaining its circumstances” to the government as the tax-changes kick in, and is looking forward to “engage more” with the state to arrive at a sustainable position.

“As you spend more capital, you will require more relief in the tax-paying schedule.”
High prices for the metal, which have more than quintupled on spot markets in the last decade, have bolstered the revenues and profits of miners; but the industry insists its costs have been rising in step as mines reach depletion and more attention is focused on the safety of operations.

“With the increased revenues have come increased costs: labour wants more, the utilities want more, higher fuel prices till recently, and all manner of input costs are going up. Again, as you mine deeper, the cost of doing so increases -- especially given that you have to mine safely and meet your environmental commitments. So it’s not as rosy as it appears to be for the industry,” Addo-Kufuor said.

The government has also taken action towards an extensive review of the industry. Last month, Dr. Duffuor unveiled a seven-member committee tasked with “reviewing” and “renegotiating” stability agreements, as well as “redesigning” other mining contracts “in the best interests of the countr”.

“What we are looking for is a win-win situation in which mining companies and the people benefit equally. The importance of the government’s strategy is to develop an economy that works for everyone,” he said.

Anglogold is among those miners that have signed a stability agreement with the government, and a review could possibly throw up legal hurdles, especially if consensus cannot be generated.

“These agreements were through due process, and I believe there is value in them for the state and the company,” Addo-Kufuor remarked.

He said Anglogold is yet to be contacted over the review of its stability agreement, and would not want to “pre-empt” any future event.

“The way forward on this is more engagement. I’m sure there are areas in which there will be room for understanding and in which we can explain ourselves better.”

Source: B&FT

‘Youth empowerment is crucial for dev’t’

Mr. Seth Oteng, Executive Director of Youth Bridge Foundation, a youth-focused NGO, has said empowerment and greater participation of the youth in governance are crucial for successful economic development in Africa.

“Refusing to carefully analyse and properly establish and direct such roles of the youth in the building blocks of any society and country can be an expensive path to travel on.

“Having consistently engaged with youth groups from all over the country and from 35 countries in Africa and the Diaspora through the Foundation’s African Youth and Governance Conference Initiative, we have come to the critical realisation that the role played by the youth in building and maintaining peace cannot be overemphasised,” he said.

Mr. Oteng said this when the Foundation in collaboration with the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) – Ghana, organised a national stakeholder's dialogue on Election 2012 concerns to launch 'Youth Facing Elections: Crossroad-GH2012' project, in Accra.

He was speaking under the theme ‘Dialogue and Mutual Understanding: A wheel for Peaceful Election 2012’and aimed at creating a dialogue with stakeholders and eliciting commitment to address issues of transparency and a free, fair and peaceful Election 2012.

The Foundation is a youth non-governmental organisation that advocates responsible participation of the youth in social, economic and democratic processes for peaceful conduct of elections for a sustainable development.

Mr. Oteng said as part of the project the Foundation in partnership with the Electoral Commission and other youth organisations will undertake youth-friendly approaches to deepen voter education among the electorate.

He said there will be advocacy for youth inclusiveness at every stage in the election process, a campaign for youth non-violent participation in Election 2012, and policy dialogue in election year as a barometer for post-election engagements.

Dr. Anthony Cudjoe, Chief Executive Officer, Emerging Leaders Africa, urged the youth not to allow politicians to use them as instruments for electoral violence, and called on them to be worthy ambassadors of peace for Election 2012.

Mr. Elvis Aryeh, Member of the National Media Commission, urged the media to shine at all times in the provision of fair coverage for all.

WB pushes local procurement for mining

Governments need to enact and implement appropriate policies and regulations to encourage mining companies to procure more equipment, supplies and services from local companies while providing a supportive enabling environment for enterprise development and investment, the latest World Bank mining study has proposed.

“Governments can require mining companies to develop and submit local procurement plans, review concessions on targetted import tariffs and duties, promote linkages and investment along the mining supply chain and allocate revenues from mining to support local supplier development,” the study said.

The study, under the theme ‘Increasing Local Procurement by the Mining Industry in West Africa’ and focused on Ghana, Guinea and Senegal, recommended that West African governments work with mining companies, suppliers, and civil society to strengthen definitions and indicators for measuring local procurement.

It again suggested that regional organisations can help develop a harmonised list of products across the region that may be exempted from customs duties, promoting linkages and investment along the mining supply chain, developing a regional list of suppliers, and continuing to facilitate regional trade.

“Mining companies need to ensure that local companies have full, fair and reasonable access to opportunities. They should share information on their procurement needs, helping to identify and assess the viability of suitable products and services for local supply, and broadening access to tenders and requests for quotation.

The World Bank revealed that raising the share of local procurement by mining companies will spread the benefits of mining more evenly across a countries’ economy, creating jobs and stimulating the sustainable development of local enterprises.

“Increasing local procurement by the Mining Industry in West Africa would spread the benefits of mining more evenly across a country’s economy, creating jobs and stimulating the sustainable development of local enterprises.”

The report revealed that few mining companies in West Africa have established policies to support local procurement, although some efforts had already been launched to seek a more consistent, formal approach.

“There are important potential opportunities for expanding local supply in areas such as camp management, civil works, construction and transport, as well as drilling, mining, and equipment maintenance.”

The WB said local procurement by mining companies could bring significant benefits to a wide range of stakeholders in resource-rich countries, due to the large scale of current and potential mining activity in West African countries.

The World Bank's Vice President for Africa, Obiageli K. Ezekwesili, said: “A key message of this study is that mining companies need to be transparent about informing local communities on procurement opportunities, so that these communities can benefit economically from mining operations.
“Buying local goods and services would serve as a catalyst for private sector development and lead to sustainable growth.
“Mining companies should not only extract wealth, they must inject opportunity, mining served as an economic engine for West Africa, supplying about nine percent of the world’s bauxite, and eight percent of its gold.

She said: “This contribution is expected to grow, with large gold, iron-ore, and bauxite projects in advanced planning stages, along with unexploited uranium, copper and diamond deposits across the region.

“Even if those levels of mining activity involved significant procurement spending, both in capital investment and operational costs, there has so far been only limited participation in mining supply chains by companies based in West Africa.

“This situation endures despite existing capacity and the potential to expand the capacity of local small and medium enterprises.”

Local mining sector

An estimated 34% of annual mineral exports, currently enjoyed by foreign firms and expatriates providing mining services in the country, could revert to locals if they take steps to make themselves able to provide these services.

Estimates according to the Minerals Commission show that these services procured by the mining firms in 2008 alone came to US$680million, and they continue to go to foreigners because the locals have not positioned themselves to take advantage of these opportunities in the mining sector.

Local content and capability issues are national issues, and so they call for a collaborative approach between public and private partnership.

The best way to keep the mining industry as an integral part of the country’s economy is to put in place deliberate and sustained local content and capability development policies, backed by legislation and enforcement mechanisms, and not just resorting to appeals or pleas to mining exploration and production companies.

The non-existence of capacity currently in the country should not be an excuse. There must be conscious and systematic development of local capability.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Golden Star to reopen plant, sees output to rise.

Golden Star Resources said it will restart its oxide plant at the Bogoso/Prestea gold mine and the miner expects the output from the mill to push up its 2012 production.

The plant, which stopped operating in 2008 due to lack of oxide ore, is expected to generate up to 70,000 ounces of gold this year, Golden Star said in a statement.
Last September, the company said it has resumed mining at its Pampe gold deposit in Ghana.

The company now expects 2012 output between 350,000 and 370,000 ounces of gold, up from 301,000 ounces last year. For the first quarter, it expects to produce 79,000 ounces of gold.

The full impact of the mill will not be reflected in production till the second quarter, Golden Star said.

Golden Star to reopen plant, sees output to rise.

Golden Star Resources said it will restart its oxide plant at the Bogoso/Prestea gold mine and the miner expects the output from the mill to push up its 2012 production.

The plant, which stopped operating in 2008 due to lack of oxide ore, is expected to generate up to 70,000 ounces of gold this year, Golden Star said in a statement.
Last September, the company said it has resumed mining at its Pampe gold deposit in Ghana.

The company now expects 2012 output between 350,000 and 370,000 ounces of gold, up from 301,000 ounces last year. For the first quarter, it expects to produce 79,000 ounces of gold.

The full impact of the mill will not be reflected in production till the second quarter, Golden Star said.

Fast-track CSR guidelines for mines

Chiefs and opinion leaders of mining communities have called for speedy implementation of laws to define parameters and guidelines for carrying out corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the mining industry.

At a workshop on ‘Guidelines for Implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programmes in Mining Communities’, Agyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, Omanhene of Sefwi Wiawso, speaking on behalf of the chiefs argued that the development of the national framework on corporate social responsibility for mining companies has been long overdue.

He said political leaders and stakeholders need to help make the necessary inputs toward full adoption of the guidelines to encourage effective support for improving the socio-economic lives of mining communities.

He noted that a CSR module has been used at the Ahafo Mine of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and it appears to be working successfully, adding that this needs to be replicated in other communities.

“CSR strategies and practices can enable the mining industry to increase its impact on poverty-alleviation and development in the country in a cost-effective and practical manner,” he said.

In recent years, concerns about the sustainability and social responsibility of businesses have become an increasingly high-profile issue in many countries and industries, including Ghana, and more so in the mining industry.

For mining, one outcome of the CSR agenda is the increasing need for individual companies to justify their existence and document their performance through the disclosure of social and environmental information.

The minerals and mining sector regulator, Minerals Commission, is currently spearheading the development of a national framework to define parameters and guidelines for carrying out corporate social responsibility programmes in the industry.

The guidelines are currently at the draft stage and are drawn on policies, codes and principles issued by the industry, government, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

The new rules are expected to serve mining companies, the government, local communities, stakeholders, and other groups with interest in or who are affected by mining activities.

Mr. Ben Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, said: “It is important to address the integration of all aspects of economic, social and environmental benefits and impacts during and beyond all phases of life of a mining operation.

“This is to guarantee that benefits can be sustained to ensure the rehabilitation of disturbed lands, and for the continuous improvement of environmental, social and economic conditions.”

He explained that the guidelines were designed to serve as benchmarks for development and assessment for CSR programmes and activities by mining companies.

They are also intended to complement applicable binding national and international regulations on CSR and provide principles and guidelines for mining companies where these are absent, or could be improved upon within the context of the country’s development agenda.

Mr. Jerry Ahadjie, Principal Policy Planning Officer, Minerals Commission, making a presentation on the guidelines explained that they cover corporate governance and ethics, human rights, employment and labour standards, health and safety, and environmental stewardship.

Others include risk-assessment and management, material and supply-chain management, community and social development, stakeholder engagement, and compliance.

Mr. Ahadjie said: “The guidelines commit mining companies operating in the country to work against all forms of corruption -- including extortion and bribery -- and pledge themselves to ethical, transparent and accountable business.

“They entreat mining companies to respect internationally acceptable human rights conventions within their sphere of influence and make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses, while dialoguing and signing agreements with community members on crop compensation rates before farms are taken-over.

“The guidelines commit companies to respect rights to free assembly and collective bargaining by unions, and provide time-off for union officials as well as seek continual improvement of health and safety of their communities.”

Mr. Richard Afeku, Sectoral Policy Planning Manager of the Commission, indicated that under the guidelines companies are expected to implement risk-management strategies based on valid data, and conduct a thorough social assessment during all the stages of mine development to predict impact and understand local needs and desires.

“Mining companies are required to implement effective and transparent engagement, communication and independently-verified reporting arrangements with stakeholders -- as well as consider CSR and sustainability reports as a useful communication tool to highlight responsible business practice,” Mr. Afeku said.

Huawei to dominate in smart-phones

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, is to launch its first own-branded manufactured Smart-phones, aimed at making its handsets accessible to all in the global phone market.

“By 2013, Huawei Device aims to be one of the world's top handset manufacturers, and we are well-placed to achieve that goal.

“We are going to get to a point where we're a credible player in the market. We want to make an impact in the market,” Mark Mitchinson, an official of the company, said.

Mr. Mitchinson indicated that the company currently has 25 staff working on the launch in the United Kingdom (UK) and will increase the number to approximately 60.

He disclosed that the device currently makes up a small part of Huawei's business, which in the UK has a total headcount of 500, and that it plans to double that figure by 2015 as well as recruiting 1,500 sub-contractors.

"It is a necessary change for Huawei. We are one of the dominant players in infrastructure. How much more infrastructure can we build? We believe there is enough space in a very competitive space like the UK," Mr. Mitchinson said.

Huawei is targetting the so-called feature-phones market, which it estimates make up about 60 percent of UK mobile sales. Feature phones are low-end, limited handsets that are cheaper than smartphones.

"We have established ourselves in the infrastructure and technology space. There is no reason why we can't expand that," Mr. Mitchinson said.

“The company also makes phones for other UK phone companies including Vodafone and Everything Everywhere, which owns T-Mobile and Orange. The Huawei Blaze, which will run the Android operating system and cost less than £100, will be the first of a series of phones and devices from Huawei, including tablets and media pads. A high-end smartphone is expected next year.

"There is an opportunity to bring smartphones to a wider audience.” Mr. Mitchinson said.

He said: “Smart-phones for all is a key message. Huawei will open up the door for that. The next explosion is the data-explosion. It's about the right proposition.

The UK could be the blueprint of how we roll this business out into the rest of Europe. China and the UK are the two key markets for the launch of devices."

Huawei was established in China by RenZhengfei in 1988 and serves 45 of the top global mobile network operators, covering a third of the world's population.

It first moved into devices in 2003, making handsets for other companies. It will ship 12 million smartphones this year, with sales hitting US$6bn (£3.7bn).

Better late than never

Dr. Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, says the country has not derived maximum benefits from mining because of its inability to devise a comprehensive vision on local content for the sector.

“We need to develop a national vision on local content in the mining industry if we want to derive the full benefits from mining.

“This comprehensive national vision will spell out and promote local participation in the mining sector. You cannot blame the current government or the past government [for not developing one]. Maybe as a nation we have failed,” he told the Business & Financial Times in an interview.

He advocated a strengthening of local participation in the extractive sector, especially in the different ends of the supply chain since it is an avenue that can boost the economic advancement of the country. But he maintained any such effort should be situated within a policy framework and vision.

“The best way to keep the mining industry as an integral part of the country’s economy is to put in place deliberate and sustained local content and capability-development policies, backed by legislation and enforcement mechanisms -- and not just resorting to appeals or pleas to mining exploration and production companies.”

He disclosed that as a major step towards incorporating local content in mining, the Chamber of Mines, Minerals Commission and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), where 29 key areas have been identified to deepen local participation.

He said the MOU is intended to support the growth of local businesses working in the mining industry.

Extractive industry watchers have observed that the sector is fully taken over by foreigners, though locals have equal capabilities in many areas of the industry.

Many reckon that if the necessary support had been provided, Ghanaians who would have ventured into the sector and raised capital from within to manage their own operations.

An estimated 34 percent of the value of annual mineral exports, currently enjoyed by foreign firms and expatriates providing mining services in the country, could revert to locals if they were able to provide these services.

Estimates by the Minerals Commission show that these services procured by the mining firms in 2008 alone came to US$680 million, and they continue to go to foreigners because the locals have not positioned themselves to take advantage of these opportunities in the sector.

In a recent interview, Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Mike Hammah said new regulations have been finalised to boost participation of local contractors in the mining sector.

These regulations, which constitute subsidiary legislations for the industry, are targetted at giving effect to the new policy on local content introduced by the government to enhance the development of Ghanaian enterprises. It seeks essentially to confine the provision of specific products and services in the mining sector to local contractors.

“Apart from creating jobs and economic opportunities for locals, this is an effort to enhance the outcome of mining operations on indigenous populations -- a vexed issue that has been a source of strife between mining companies and inhabitants of mining communities,” Hammah said.

Africa needs a new culture of excellence

Speakers at the Springboard 2012 Roadshow have observed that attaining excellence among Africans requires a generation with a new culture and mindset that promotes excellence.

Speaking at the National Convocation under the theme ‘Promoting Excellence through Innovation & Technology’, the keynote speaker Dr. Mensa Otabil observed that the picture of Africa today is characterised by illiteracy, widespread poverty, disease, outmoded technology and war.

This, he said, is a complex problem that cannot be solved easily. “We must think, choose and act on our own. The future belongs to people who can think on their own with the competition in mind.

“To build a culture of excellence, we must originate new ways of possibilities and create a preferred future for ourselves. If we’re going to develop as a continent, we have to shift our focus from targetting political opponents to targetting development. If Africa wants to grow, we must surpass excellence; we must be a generation of thinkers,” said Dr. Mensa Otabil, who is also Chancellor of the Central University College.

The National Convocation of the Springboard Road Show, which took place at La-Accra over the weekend, was a massive assembly of successful chief executive officers, corporate executives and students in both secondary and tertiary institutions. It was meant to equip participants with requisite tools to develop themselves and commit to continental transformation by promoting a culture of personal excellence, career-enhancement, planning, investment and entrepreneurship.

The Springboard Road Show is a personal-development conference put together by the Springboard Road Show Foundation, a non-profit civil society organisation, in conjunction with Legacy and Legacy and a host of corporate partners.

Albert Ocran, Executive Director of the Springboard Road Show Foundation, dared participants to dream big and think globally in everything they do. He challenged the youth in the country to be informed, principled and excellent in their work. This will help build a better society and a stronger continent, and raise Africa’s own success stories.

He explained that the current knowledge economy rewards relevant information and problem- solving applications, and that ignorance has no place. “Feed your mind with information and find solutions to problems,” he stressed.

For his part, Daniel Asiedu, Managing Director of Zenith Bank Ghana, observed that Africa is currently coming under the spotlight of the international community.

“This calls for aggressive and sustainable development strategies to equip the youth, who are indeed the future of the continent, with tools and practical knowledge on technological advancement and innovation grounded on a culture of excellence. If there was a time when we needed an informed and capable youth in the nation, it is now.”

Outlining advantages of Africa’s youth, he said: “Africa is blessed with natural resources; some are yet to be discovered and the continent is an emerging market with a lot of untapped areas. “We live in the age of the youth, who are hungry for success and can be the driving force behind economic prosperity on the continent.”

Mr. Kwaku Sintim-Misa also said: “In Ghana, mediocrity prevails over excellence. We glorify things that are below average. You must make a conscious effort to shun mediocrity.”

He explained that one of the steps to achieving excellence is not to be afraid of failure. “Don’t be afraid of failure; it’s an opportunity to learn. The first time l did a show in Ghana, l sold 13 tickets, but that did not discourage me.”

The Springboard Road Show will now be held in the nine other regional capitals -- starting from the Fountain Gate Chapel in Bolgatanga on Saturday February 4; Radach Memorial Hall, Tamale, Tuesday February 7; and University of Development Studies (UDS) Auditorium, Wa, on Saturday February 11.

The road show will then continue at Sunyani Polytechnic Auditorium on Wednesday February 15; Calvary Charismatic Centre (CCC) Kumasi on Saturday February 18; New ICGC Church Complex, Koforidua, on Wednesday February 22; UCC Campus, Cape Coast on Saturday February 25; Takoradi Polytechnic Auditorium on Wednesday February 29; and Ho Polytechnic Auditorium for the grand finale on Saturday March 3.