BY ROSEMOND AKUORKOR ADJETEY | Rosemond.email@example.com
MINING COMPANIES have appealed to the Minerals Commission to stop imposing fines on imported inputs that are not available on the Ghanaian market. The tour on Monday and Tuesday took the parliamentary committee to Ghana Manganese Company (GMC), AngloGold Iduapriem Mines and Goldfields Tarkwa Mines.
According to Mr Benjamin Atsu Quashie, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ghana Manganese Company, the cost of electricity is a major factor for which his company wanted to establish a smelter to process as well as add value to the manganese.
He explained that “value addition is good and to do that we need to set up a plan and to do so there is the need for management to conduct a feasibility survey to understand whether or not to go ahead with a smelter in Ghana. I believe a report will come out and based on that report a recommendation will be made whether or not to have a smelter in Ghana.
”He, however, said they had been able to come to some kind of understanding as a committee was set up to investigate a report that was done on the company’s audit report. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee has commended the three mining companies for effort to promote linkages with other sectors of the economy through local employment opportunities, in-country spending, procurement of local goods and services and local participation through equity and management.
He explained to the DAILY HERITAGE that the Chamber was making sure that many Ghanaians as much as possible would play their roles at the top and bottom managerial levels.“We have a long history of mining in the system and therefore not surprising that we have the capabilities that the people who have the knowledge, the competence and skills to be able to mine our various industries in the country are Ghanaians.
”He also said “statistics will tell you that less than two percent of employees in the mining industries are expatriates. We are talking about 100 percent being employed directly by the mining industries and more than 98% of them are Ghanaians.
“We have a framework through which we actually measure how well we are doing regarding inputs going into mining industries. So we are working closely with the Minerals Commission with the understanding that we need to collaborate for us to be able to grow local manufacturing firms in one of the mining industry so that the aggregate demand of the mining firms become an opportunity for local manufacturing companies to actually produce and supply the mining industries,” he added.
According to him, it is not only finding challenges that matters but it is to also find solutions in order to continue to work with the manufacturing industries to ensure that these inputs have the right quality because if the quality is not good, then it directly affects the quality of work.
For input local content, Mr Koney said the industry could have done much more but unfortunately they had a situation where legislation had not been done comprehensively until recently.
The CEO pointed out the need to deepen the roles by continuing to train people, give them the capacity and organise refresher courses in order for these managers to continue to operate at those higher levels.
On the tour himself, Mr Koney said, “Practically the three companies we visited have top management who are Ghanaians. It just tells you how well we are doing, making sure the people who actually run the affairs of the companies are Ghanaians.”
Mr Sulemanu Koney, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ghana Chamber of Mines, said the mining companies were doing well as afar as the local content was concerned, explaining that there were various elements in the local content, including focus on people and input.
Mr George Mireku Duker, Vice Chairman for the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy and Member of Parliament for Tarkwa Nsueam, said local content was a concern to the government and that the Committee had the responsibility of inviting the Minerals Commission to investigate further and see how best they could resolve the issue of the fines.
He said “we came up with our findings and that has been submitted to the sector minister to discuss during their cabinet meeting so we are anxiously waiting for the feedback from the minister regarding the conclusion that is going to be made at the cabinet meeting.”
He stated that the company had been in existence for over 100 years but barely two years ago the Chinese took over from the Ukrainians and things had been normal from the front operations until the company had some issues with the government.
Cost of electricity
The companies said the imposition of the fines was just one of their challenges and mentioned others as the delay in obtaining Ghana Revenue Authority letters to administer exemptions; imposition of a fine for transferring assets on mining list to their contractors without pre-approval; and high cost of electricity.
At Goldfields, Mr Stephen Osei-Bempah, General Manager, complained that when the Mineral Commission treated the imported mining items as if they were manufactured locally and imposed the fines on them, it made it difficult for the companies to operate as expected.
The companies made the appeal during a two-day tour of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy to Tarkwa in the Western Region to familiarize themselves with the activities within the mining companies there.
They said it was very difficult to avoid such items which are imported at huge cost and so the fines increased their cost of production to extreme levels.
They explained that even though such fines were meant to discourage import of mining inputs and promote local manufacturing of such inputs, some of the inputs are not on the local market but are very important for effective operations, hence the need to import them.
BY ROSEMOND AKUORKOR ADJETEY