The state of communities where mining companies in Ghana operate, such as Obuasi, Tarkwa and Akwatia, is a disgrace to the country, as well as the mining companies, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated.
“Why is Obuasi not the most beautiful city in Ghana or the world if it hosts the richest gold mine? Why do Tarkwa and Prestea not look like the golden towns they are? And why does Akwatia’s appearance not reflect anything about the diamonds that have been taken from its soils all these years?” he asked.
He, therefore, called on players in the mining industry to join hands with the government to help transform mining communities in an intelligent and sustainable manner.
Addressing the opening session of the 2018 West African Mining and Power Conference and Exhibition (WAMPOC/WAMPEX) in Accra on Wednesday, the President said “the distressed state of communities in which mining companies operate is nothing short of a disgrace and we must work to change the situation”.
The conference is on the theme: “A responsible and sustainable mining industry: A partner for national development”.
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President Akufo-Addo said mining provided many people with a source of living, “but we all have a collective responsibility to ensuring that mining activities do not leave our lands degraded and rob future generations of a safe and habitable environment”.
He said it was difficult for the average Ghanaian to appreciate the fact that the country gained substantially from mining, probably due to the fact that the communities in which mining had been done remained largely under-developed and did not show signs of being the origins of what brought wealth to so many people and places.
“For years we were told that the mine in Obuasi was the richest gold mine in the world. The question is justifiably asked: how come Obuasi does not show any sign that it is the home of the richest gold mine in the world? The contrast between Obuasi and Johannesburg, for example, is stark and compelling,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo cutting the tape to declare the exhibition officially opened.
The President urged the mining companies to commit to the development of the communities where they made their money and help improve the living conditions there.
On the ban on small-scale mining, President Akufo-Addo reiterated the government’s commitment to fight illegal mining unabated and dismissed claims that the illegal miners would not have any work to do if they were made to stop the canker.
He said people engaged in illegal mining did so out of their desire for quick money and not necessarily out of lack of employment.
The President gave an assurance that through its One-district, One-factory policy, the government would create jobs for the youth in all communities throughout the country.
Making the mining sector flourish
For his part, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, said the government had done a comprehensive value chain analysis with a view to empowering local firms to play active roles within the mining sector.
That, he said, was to ensure that mining was done in a manner that would support and strengthen the socio-economic development agenda of the state.
He appealed to mining companies to take safety issues at their operational bases seriously.
The President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, stressed that the availability and uninterrupted supply of power was crucial to the survival of the mining sector.
He also stressed the need to undertake sustainable mining that would ensure that the environment that would be bequeathed to posterity was intact.