Former president John Agyekum Kufuor has urged the Minerals Commission Board to deepen the country’s mining industry local content by developing locals in the sector to become billionaires.
“As a country, it is about time we make a deliberate and conscious effort at developing our own to become billionaires in the mining sector especially anywhere the prospects are for now.
“I, therefore, implore on you to look beyond the local content policy of employment creation and fashion out new policies that will develop and grow Ghanaians to become owners of giant mines in the country,’’ he said.
He made the remarks when the Minerals Commission Board paid him a courtesy call at his residence.
On the issue of illegal mining popularly known as galamsey, which is still prevailing in the country despite government’s efforts at stemming the practice, Mr Kufuor said, a national forum should be held with the President in attendance to sensitize the entire nation.
He said the extent of devastation by the practice has brought on the environment must be pointed out so people will refrain from the act.
Mr Kufuor further called for a second look at using the ‘stick approach’ as the first option of dealing with illegal mining issues and rather adopt policies and initiatives that will appropriately deal with it.
He proposed that the Minerals Commission should explore further the mining concession ‘blocked out areas’ concept where interested small scale miners are registered as cooperatives/groups and licensed within the concession area.
This way, their activities can be checked and monitored according to the mining compliance and best practices, the former President noted.
On his part, the Board Chairman S. K. Boafo was grateful to the former president for the opportunity offered to meet him.
He assured that the Board will deliberate further on the former president’s advice and work out policies and modalities to have them implemented.
Mr Boafo informed Mr Kufuor about the transformation ongoing at the Commission since the Board’s appointment by President Akufo-Addo.
He noted that Ghana was recently ranked as the number one producer of Gold in Africa and also prospecting activity is currently underway in the Central Region around Saltpond and Mankessim for commercial find of Lithium.
The Board Chairman indicated that the Commission in collaboration with the sector Ministry and the Inter-Ministerial Committee in Illegal Mining (IMCIM) are already working on a community mining programme concept.
The programme aims to bring small scale miners under a ‘blocked out’ concession area in line with Mr Kufuor’s advice so that they could be properly monitored to mine responsibly and be easily regulated.
He mentioned also that, in other to ensure that mining communities do not become ghost towns even after cessation of mining and illegal mining, the Commission has adopted oil palm as a sustainable livelihood project in such.
Some notable communities include Dunkwa-Ayanfuri and the project is being extended to the Eastern region, where community members are supplied with oil palm seedlings for free to venture into oil palm production.