BY ROSEMOND AKUORKOR ADJETEY | Rosemond.firstname.lastname@example.org
MINING COMPANIES in the Western Region are calling on the government to, as matter of urgency, fix the Western Railway lines to enable them to transport heavy equipment and raw materials to prevent the roads in the region from further damage.
Mr Benjamin Atsu Quarshie, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Ghana Manganese Company (GMC), said the roads were in deteriorated state because most of the trucks carrying heavy equipment ply them every day.
Receiving members of the Ghana Chamber of Mines and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy, who were on a two-day tour to the region, he added that GMC preferred the railway lines to the roads because cost per ton to haul manganese from the mining site to the port is US$7 while that of the railway is US$ 5.
“Our mode of haulage is 90 percent by road; but if the railway line is improved, it will help us reduce cost and take away the nuisance caused by haulage trucks on the road. That is something we have to look at. If we are doing 5 to 7 million tonnes per year that is a lot of extra cost to haulage,” he said.
Mr Quarshie stated that the company gave the government US $10 million two years ago to speed up with the rehabilitation of the railway lines in the region but unfortunately, till date, they had not heard of or seen any concrete work done on the rail lines.
While confirming that railways would reduce transportation cost borne by the mining companies, the General Manager of Tarkwa Goldfields Mine disclosed that since the railway lines could not be used, it had asphalted the 33-km Tarkwa-Damang road for used by the company and the public.
Mr Stephen Osei-Bempah added that the company was constructing roads in three communities in the region at a cost of US$27million.
The roads, he stated, were the 0.6km UMaT Basic School – Nana Angu II by-pass, 16km Awudua Junction – Awudua road, 15km Samanhu – Pepesa road and 0.8km Post Office – Nana Angu II road.
Mr Sulemanu Koney, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber Mines, explained that looking at the volumes of products coming the Ghana Bauxite and Ghana Manganese companies, it would be better and cheaper for them to haul their goods by railway lines.
According to him, “this will spare our roads all-year round. Let us expedite action to complete rehabilitation of the rail lines. The benefits are enormous, and so we should look at the volumes of [products from] Ghana Manganese and Ghana Bauxite and fix the rails,” he said.
The CEO also pointed to the need for the mining companies to inform the law makers in the country about the activities of the mines and challenges they faced in order for them to be resolved by the policy makers.
“Out of these deliberations, we should come out with solutions to the problems and work hand in hand with mining firms and district assemblies to see a lot of development in communities and security in the mines, so they can work with peace of mind,” he added.