Monday, September 14, 2015

Stakeholders meet to scrutinise draft artisanal mining framework document

A workshop aimed at finalising the draft artisanal mining framework document developed by the Minerals Commission has been held in Accra.

The document being discussed for adoption as a blueprint to deal with issues relating to artisanal small scale mining in the country’s minerals sector has been developed to incorporate strategies to be implemented for the mining sector to support the implementation of activities to address challenges in the management of small scale mining in the country.

The small scale sector employs about 1,000,000 people in the country and in 2014 contributed about 34% of the total gold production in the country.

The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resource, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh speaking at the opening of the workshop in Accra explained that small scale mining has attracted global significance because of its potential contributions to sustainable livelihoods to countries with abundant mineral resources. 

He said government recognises that small scale mining operations undertaken by Ghanaians offer opportunities top support rural livelihood, develop entrepreneurship and provide sources of industrial raw materials for the minerals and mining industry.  

Mr. Akandoh observed that the artisanal small scale mining sector in spite of its contribution to the Ghanaian economy has in recent times faced numerous challenges in terms of regulation and management and that there have been calls for a comprehensive framework which will help manage the activities of the sector to ensure sustainable development.

“Indeed, the issues of small scale mining activities have moved from being a local community issue to both national and international one, because foreigners are also engaged in illegal small scale mining and the negative environmental impacts affect the whole country.”

Among some of the causes of illegal mining in the country, he explained include; inadequate geologically prospected lands for acquisition by small scale miners, lack of access to local micro-financing schemes to finance their operations, high gold price attracts more people go into illegal mining. 

The challenges also include connivance of some Chiefs, Landlords and Opinion Leaders with the foreigners to operate in remote areas in the country, inadequate and less attractive than gold alternative livelihood opportunities.

“Illegal small scale mining is confronted with numerous environmental and social effects including, but not limited to, land degradation, water pollution, human health impacts such as dust, mercury, noise, crime, encroachment on large scale concessions resulting in social conflicts and a host of others. 

“These effects are a threat to the country’s environmental integrity, food security, and our sustainable development agenda. 

“It is therefore, important that we all bring our ideas on board to help managed the sector by putting in place the necessary framework that will help formalize the mining activities.”

Mr. Akandoh stated that the regulatory agencies responsible for managing the artisanal small scale mining cannot win the fight against illegal mining without the support and corporation of all the international donors who have contributed to the development of this framework.

Mr. Richard Kofi Afenu, Sectorial Policy and Planning Manager,Minerals Commission explained that the country appreciate the significant contribution of small scale mining activities to employment creation and improvement in economic activities in communities where these activities take place.

These positive impacts, however are quite often negated by certain negative tendencies bordering on socio-economic, environmental and technical issues.

Mr. Afenu explained that government continues to provide policy direction and support to the development of the mining sector.

He added that is also government’s policy to develop the small-scale mining industry to become as efficient as their large-scale counterparts and that the industry will become truly indigenous and self-reliant with most of its needs being serviced by local companies.

“As we invest our time and resources to address challenges facing the sub-sector, it will be irresponsible for any of us to condone illegal small scale mining in whatever form. This is because such operations are not sustainable and they pose serious health, environmental and security risks especially now that it has assumed a national dimension,” Mr. Afenu remarked.

Gold exporters ask BoG to rescind decision

The Association of Gold Exporters of Ghana (AGEG) is asking the Bank of Ghana to rescind appointing the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) as the certifier for gold exports 
A statement from the Association questioned the Bank’s notification to it through an advertisement to comply with a directive in only eight days.

“We have not responded to a letter dated July 16, 2015 in which AGEG made proposals to enhance the repatriation of proceeds from gold exports,” the statement said.

At its emergency meeting held, the Association said that “much as it would cooperate with the Central Bank to enhance proper monitoring of gold exports and repatriation of proceeds, it did not recognise PMMC as a conformity assessment body capable of testing and certifying their exports from Ghana.”

Kwabena Asante-Asare, Chairman of AGEG said: “PMMC is a competitor that also buys gold from small-scale miners for export and should not be made to appear to have the mandate to regulate and assess just because it is a state-owned enterprise.”

He said the association finds the position of the BoG disturbing as per two letters from Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) to the bank which were copied to it.

The authority was planning to commence the assay and export certification of gold on the same date given by the Central Bank, September 15, 2015.

He indicated that the Minerals and Mining Act 2006, Act 703 stipulate that it is the Minister of Lands and Mineral Resources who on the advice of the Minerals Commission, which is the regulator of gold export operations, issues licences for gold exports.

The apex bank, on the other hand, is mandated by the Foreign Exchange Act 703 to ensure that proceeds from exports are repatriated back into the country, he explained.

Mr. Asante-Asare said the Central Bank could knowingly attempt to arrogate to itself the lawful mandate of other state institutions, pointing out that “the bank was not only infringing on the mandate of GSA, but it was also trying to usurp the powers of the sector minister to license gold exporters by insisting that all exports of gold are to be done only through PMMC.”

The Association indicated its readiness to meet officials of the BoG within the limited time to address their concerns. AGEG said they would go to court to seek redress if their concerns are not addressed.

August inflation slides to 17.3%

Headline inflation rate slowed slightlyin August according to the Ghana Statistical Service, sliding to 17.3 percent from 17.9 percent in the month of July 2015. 
The drop, which represents 0.6 percentage points from the July inflation rate and largely due to gains in the cedi, is the first time the rate has recorded a decline during the first six months of 2015.

“We had a decline in the inflation rate for the non-food group, and this was mainly driven by the gains made by the country’s cedi as we saw between July and August,” said Philomena Nyarko, Government Statistician, at a media interaction in Accra.

The major contributors to the August inflation rate decline, she said, were the food group and non-food group; adding that the main price-drivers for the non-food inflation rate were recreation and culture (25.8%), education (25.6%), transport (25.3%); clothing and footwear (25.1%), furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance (24.9%); and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (23.5%). 

While the ‘price-drivers’ for the food inflation rate were mineral water, soft-drinks, fruit and vegetable juices  (13.5%); coffee, tea and cocoa (12.9%); sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery (11.7%); food products (11.4%), meat and meat products (11.2%); vegetables (10.9%); and milk, cheese and eggs (10.0%).

The inflation rate for imported items was 18.1% in August 2015 compared with 21.2% recorded in July 2015; and the inflation rate for locally-produced items was 17.0% in August 2015, recording the same rate as July 2015.

Analysts have opined the food inflation group’s decline was due to the bumper harvest recorded in the country.

Three regions -- namely the Ashanti, Greater Accra and Central -- recorded inflation rates higher than the national average of 17.3%. The Upper West Region recorded the same inflation rate as the national average of 17.3 percent.

The Ashanti Region recorded the highest year-on-year inflation rate of 18.9%, while the Northern Region recorded the lowest at 13.8%.