Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is expected to soon meet the management of Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), to ostensibly resolve a rift between the two firms on who has the mandate to certify refined gold in Ghana for the international bullion market.
There have been increasing tension between the two institutions over who has the final authority to certify Ghana’s gold for export.
Last year, a similar meeting convened by the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei Opare, and Deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, failed to resolve the growing tension.
Hopefully, this meeting is expected to find a lasting solution as to which of the two would have the mandate to certify Ghana’s gold for the international market.
There has been a revenue loss of over $25 billion in gold sale to the state between 2010 and 2015, according to data from the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
Even though the law that established the Precious Minerals Marketing Corporation in 1989, PNDCL 219, tasked it with grading, assaying, valuing and processing minerals, the GSA, on Tuesday, unveiled the first hallmarked gold bar produced and processed in the country by Gold Coast Refinery, a local refinery business.
Ghana’s certification includes the mark of conformity of the Ghana Standard Authority; the fineness number – which corresponds to the given carats of the refined gold; and assaying and hallmarking centre mark.
GSA’s case in point
The Director-General of the GSA, Prof. Alex Dodoo has always argued that the GSA had set up a gold testing laboratory fitted with state-of-the-art equipment with all the standard requirements for testing gold.
The authority says their method is the only acceptable standard worldwide in the testing of gold, hence should be seen as such.
This point is buttressed as they rely on NRCD 173 of 1973 which empowers the GSA as the only national statutory body responsible for standardisation, conformity assessment and metrology.
The above argument if taken is expected to make GSA the only third-party government conformity assessor in the country.
PMMC legal point
But the PMMC has always insisted that his outfit has the sole mandate of gold testing and would not relinquish that to the GSA.
He said the PMMC had been given the mandate to certify and test gold since 1989 when it was a Corporation with the PNDCL 219 being the law that backed it with the tasked to do grading, assaying, valuing and processing minerals.
Again, the Minerals and Mining of Act of 2012, gives the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources the authority to appoint an agency for testing and certification authority of gold in Ghana which agency in the law is PMMC
How did we get to this point?
In September 2017, the Ghana Chamber of Mines - the association that led the charge to promote the interest of the mining companies in Ghana entered into an agreement with Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) in a form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to test the quality of gold refined in the country and other mining inputs.
The move was to enhance and strengthen technical cooperation in the fields of standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment and bring to an end questions raised with the quality of gold and its inputs to and from Ghana.
It was also to ensure that Ghana retained the several by-products of gold when it is refined, which hitherto were lost to the refining companies in South Africa and Europe.
That was what sparked the confusion which we see today when the GSA has gone ahead with the support of this same government to launch Ghana’s gold certification trademark.
What is Product Certification?
Product Certification is a third-party conformity assessment which gives written assurance that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements. This involves the issue of a certificate or mark to demonstrate that a specific product meets a defined set of requirements for that product.
What this means is that certification carries a third-party guarantee that a product has been produced according to an applicable standard and that its production has been supervised and controlled.
Again, it shows that a product has been tested and inspected and it applies to many products, including a precious metal such as gold.
In the case of gold, the term “hallmarking” is usually used to indicate the accurate determination and official recording of a proportionate content of that precious metal.
Thus, hallmark refers to the official mark used as a guarantee of purity or fineness of an article such as a precious metal like gold.
Hallmarking is useful because it helps to protect the consumer against victimisation from impure gold. It also helps to develop export competitiveness, providing third-party assurance and satisfaction for the customer to get the right purity of gold for a given price.
In the absence of hallmarking by a competent authority, therefore, this third-party assurance will be missing and the customer cannot get value for money and in the same way, the exporter; if it is a country such as Ghana, may also miss out on the value for money for its gold products.
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