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‘Discovery of lithium in commercial quantities to boost employment, foreign exchange’
Lithium is used to treat mood disorders such as mania

‘Discovery of lithium in commercial quantities to boost employment, foreign exchange’

In yet another major find that adds to Ghana’s natural resource wealth, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Thursday announced the discovery of lithium in commercial quantities in the country.

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The mineral resource is expected to boost employment and foreign exchange, and shift focus from gold and the devastating effects of its exploitation.

Lithium is used to treat mood disorders such as mania (feeling highly excited, overactive or distracted), hypo-mania (similar to mania, but less severe) and regular periods of depression, where treatment with other medicines has not worked.

Lithium and its compounds also have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, lithium metal batteries, and lithium-ion batteries.

While it offers a new dimension to the Ghanaian economy, President Akufo-Addo said with the unfortunate experience of less benefit from over a century of mining of gold, the government was putting in place measures to ensure that this did not occur in the discovery of lithium in the country.

“I assure you that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that the exploitation and utilisation of these green minerals are done, not only in an environmentally sound manner, but also in a way that ensures optimal benefits to the people of Ghana. This, we will never compromise,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo also announced that through the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation established in 2018, the government was working to ensure value addition to bauxite resources through refining, smelting, aluminium production, as well as production of other downstream aluminium products.

He said the implementation of the various stages of the projects was expected to optimise production in the upstream industry, increase production and job creation in the downstream sector, adding that with an estimated bauxite resource base of over 900 million metric tonnes, the sector could serve as an anchor for the country's industrialisation if value addition policies were pursued.

The President made the remarks when he opened the two-day Natural Resources Stakeholders Dialogue in Accra, noting that the discovery of lithium in commercial quantities was in occurrences of cobalt, nickel copper and lead, zinc and chromium.

The dialogue is being organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited, in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, on the theme: “Harnessing Our Natural Resources Responsibly for Our Sustainable Collective Good”.

President Akufo-Addo indicated that with corruption, incompetence and political instability, coupled with, mostly, short-sightedness in these negotiations, a lot of countries in Africa settled for less and had until recently failed to put in place the requisite frameworks which would enable them to establish the highest ends of the value chains of the extractive industries on the continent.

He said issues such as tax and royalty exemptions, intolerable labour practices and the lack of value addition, as well as increased profits for mining companies at the expense of host communities, towns, cities and countries would not be encouraged as part of the things the government would not countenance.

The Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group (GCGL), Ato Afful, urged stakeholders in the natural resources sector to commit to action to save the environment and create a sustainable future.

The commitments, he suggested, should focus on proactive measures to nurture and protect the natural resource endowments of the country for the good of present and future generations.

Mr Afful said in addition to committing to take action, stakeholders should "learn from what has been done over time and make a difference for our environment, our communities and our future. By caring and working together, we can create a sustainable future for all Ghanaians; living and unborn".

He further urged stakeholders to approach natural resource management more holistically by balancing economic progress, environmental conservation and social welfare with revenues and growth or developmental aspirations.

“We must collaborate to develop novel solutions that support sustainable production and consumption trends," he said.

He also urged that mining and other land-use activities should be carried out in a responsible and sustainable manner that takes into consideration the preservation of the environment and the well-being of people.

Mr Afful also advocated the promotion of sustainable growth and the protection of the environment through collaboration with the people, government, civic society and all commercial interests in the extraction and use of natural resources.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, said a technical committee was finalising a policy document on the exploitation, management and utilisation of the country’s green minerals.

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The policy, which would be put before Cabinet for approval, is aimed at retaining the mining value chain for sustainable development.

Mr Jinapor said the initiative was also part of the government's policy decision to put in place systems to support value addition and job creation in the natural resources sector.

"Systematically, the government is putting in place the necessary building blocks to construct in our country, a viable, sustainable, effective, efficient and environmentally sound natural resources sector that generates employment and contributes meaningfully to the development of our nation,” he added.

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