Gold Coast Refinery and its Chairman cum Chief Executive, have been honoured for their roles in improving mining operations in Ghana.

The honour was conferred by the Ghana Gold Expo 2020 subcommittee on conservation and reclamation, in partnership with the International Human Rights Observer.

Africa’s second-largest gold refinery based in Accra and its founder and Chairman, Dr Said Deraz, were jointly conferred with the “Ambassadorial position to help promote zero Mercury in gold production and safety environment in Ghana and across Africa” at the opening of the maiden Ghana Gold Expo 2020 in Takoradi, Sunday.

Gold Coast Refinery, having received the required certification from the Ghana Standards Authority, has emerged as a strategic investment with the capacity to add value to Ghana’s gold to rake in higher revenues from the sector.

The refinery also serves as a major employment avenue that could absorb a good chunk of the youth now being discouraged from the illegal mining pits across the country, and holds the capacity to serve all of West Africa and beyond.

Its entry into the mining space has coincided with the effort to improve Ghana’s earnings in the gold industry by adding value to the mineral resource.

Nearly 500 delegates in the gold mining value chain from over 30 countries across the world attended the three-day Ghana Gold Expo 2020 in the Western Region at the exhibition and knowledge sharing fair dubbed ‘Promoting Zero Mercury’ in mining.

Dr Deraz and Gold Coast Refinery shared the award podium with others for various levels of contributions to the local mining industry.

Personalities recognised on the night for their individual support to the mining sector included Sir Sam Jonah, the former chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti who is revered for his knowledge and experience in the mining business; Prof. Akilakpa Sawyer, the first Chairman of the Minerals Commission.

Others are Nana Prah Agyensaim VI, Paramount Chief of Assin Owirenkyi Traditional Area; Nana Tetrete Okuamoah Sekyim II, Paramount Chief of the Wassa Amenfi Traditional Area.

The rest are a former Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Sam Opoku and Mr Johan Zietman of the Gold Recovery Company and lead researcher for the Kyebi Reclamation Project.

The Ghana Gold Expo 2020 was supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and France-based gold refinery, Aurum Monaco; among other prominent international organisations.

The Expo focused mainly on ‘Promoting Zero Mercury’ in local mining, and used the platform to advance the advocacy against the application of the deadly chemical in mining in accordance with the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Mercury usage, as particularly associated with small scale mining, has proven dangerous in many cases, with devastating consequences on life and health.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

It has 128 signatories, and was passed on October 10, 2013, but took full effect on August 16, 2017.