Promoting value addition for green minerals: Minister woos Chinese govt, investors
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has called for strategic investment and partnership from the Chinese government, international mining companies and other investors to build a robust lithium and green minerals sector anchored on value addition.
Mr Jinapor said based on the fact that China had been able to build the full value chain of the lithium and battery industry from exploration to battery production, he was optimistic that Ghana could leverage the country’s partnership and expertise to add value to Ghana’s green minerals.
The minister made the call when he joined the Chinese Minister of Natural Resources, Wang Guang Hua, at the opening session of the 25th China Mining Conference and Exhibition at Tianjing, China, yesterday.
"Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the exploitation, management and use of our natural resources benefit our people, while at the same time ensuring optimal returns for investors," he said.
Mr Jinapor added that the focus of the government was to change the narrative where Ghana still exported raw bauxite and manganese after mining for over 80 years.
He said it was in that regard that the recently signed agreement with Atlantic Lithium for the first lithium project prioritised value addition and other improved terms for the country.
He said while extensive exploration was ongoing across the country for iron ore, the real deal was "to realise the true benefits of these critical minerals by ensuring that we add value to them".
The event is being organised by the China Mining Association (CMA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources of China, under the leadership of its minister, Wang Guanghua, and the Tianjing Municipal Government.
The conference, which started in 1999, is currently one of the world's largest gathering of governments, policymakers, investors and mining industry players.
This 2023 conference is on the theme: “Innovation promotes high quality development of mining”.
The three-day conference has brought together more than 10,000 delegates and 400 exhibitors from across 70 countries.
The Ghanaian delegation includes the Chairperson of the Minerals Commission Board, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Martin Ayisi; the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy, Samuel Atta Akyea; and the Technical Advisor on Mines to the Minister, Benjamin Aryee.
Green minerals potential
Mr Jinapor said Africa, which was home to most of the green minerals required for the green energy transition, needed investment in technology and innovation to ensure that the continent reaped the full benefit of those resources.
He observed that the green energy transition offered Ghana and the rest of Africa a unique opportunity to leverage technology and innovation to promote value addition in the mining sector.
"Available data shows that the continent hosts 91 per cent of the platinum group of metals, 79 per cent of phosphate rock, 53 per cent of cobalt, 46 per cent of manganese, 35 per cent of chromite, 25 per cent of bauxite, 21 per cent of graphite, six per cent of copper, and substantial deposits of other minerals like lithium, iron ore and rare earth elements.
We need to leverage this for our development," he stressed.
He said it was unfortunate that despite that potential, African countries currently involved in the exploitation of lithium were making between 10 and 15 per cent of the full value generated from developing end-to-end commodity supply chain.
"Clearly, we cannot benefit optimally from these resources if we continue to depend on the export of raw minerals," he stressed.
Mr Jinapor said it was in that regard that Ghana had taken a policy decision to promote value addition to all mineral resources, "and doing so with strong state participation".
He said through vehicles such as the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF), the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) and the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC), the country would promote state investment in the mining industry and the development of integrated aluminium, iron and steel industries.
Mr Jinapor said although Africa hosted about 30 per cent of the world's mineral resources, it was through the harnessing of innovation that the continent could maximise efficiency, reduce waste and create a knowledge-driven mining sector.
He said it was through the adoption of cutting-edge technology that African countries could address the historical environmental and social challenges associated with mining.
Aside from that, the minister said, the deployment of relevant technology would promote energy efficiency and build circular economies in Africa.
"And it is through innovation that we can increase production and add more value to the minerals we produce," he added.
Mr Jinapor said the China Mining Conference was a unique platform for participants to examine some of the most important issues in the mining industry, particularly the role of technology and innovation in building a green, sustainable and safe mining industry.
"Our modern day lives depend largely on minerals and mining, from the phones we use to the vehicles we drive.
And this has become more profound as the world works towards a green energy transition," he said.
Mr Guanghua said China would remain steadfast in the deployment of technology and reforms that would promote efficiency in the mining sector.
He said China was prepared to foster international collaborations that would ensure that green technologies were deployed to promote sustainable mining.
Mr Guanghua said the deployment of green technologies would ensure environmentally friendly mining and promote value addition.
He called on Chinese mining companies to adhere strictly to their social responsibility obligations to the host communities.