Gold Coast Refinery pushes for free zones permit to upscale production

Gold Coast Refinery, a leading gold refiner in the country, has asked government to grant it a Free Zones certification permit to enable it upscale production capacity.

The Free Zone status will enable the company to import large volumes of raw gold from the sub-region, then refine and export it to the global market.

B&FT has gathered that the company has already submitted an application to government to be considered for a Free Zone certification permit to be granted.

Mr. Sampson Nortey, Director of Gold Coast Refinery, in an interview with B&FT said: “If we have Free Zones status we can import gold from the sub-region, refine and export. All of that will upscale our production. Currently, we are doing just five percent of our capacity.

“About 90 percent of what we are doing here is for export. But the industry is such that we don’t get certain privileges.

“The fiscal regimes. such as taxes, import duties among others, make our operations very difficult, expensive and uncompetitive if we are to compete in the global market. But with the Free Zones facility it softens companies like the local refineries.”

Mr. Nortey said this after the Minister of Trade, Alan Kyerematen, led a delegation from the ministry to tour the refinery and acquaint themselves with the company’s operations.

The chemical line of the refinery, Mr Nortey said, has an installed capacity of 600 kg of gold per day and 180 metric tonnes per annum, while it also has the capacity to smelt about 150 kg of refined gold at a time.

Explaining the reason for the low production level of just five percent, Nortey indicated that it is largely due to the low stock of gold it receives from the market, adding that the company is seriously under-producing at an average of 5 percent of the refinery’s capacity.

Currently, the refinery only receives inputs from small-scale producers of gold in the country, since it does not have a contract yet with any of the large producing companies.

“Due to the strict regulations on the source of gold input for refineries on the international market, it is impossible for the company to buy from illegal producers – unlike its counterparts from India,” he stated.

He however expressed hope that in the next six months the refinery will go into contract with some producers of gold in the country to allow it increase the refinery’s input-feed.

Nortey appealed for government to intervene and enhance the access to raw gold input, by ensuring large producers of gold in the country refine or add value to at least 20 percent of their produce before exporting out of the country.

“Last year, the country was able to make an output of about 100 metric tonnes of gold; so, if we have an installed capacity to refine 180 metrics tonnes per annum, that should be more than the country’s total production,” he said.

Nortey stated that the refinery could take the West Africa sub-region’s entire production, since statistics for last year show that entire production in the sub-region was about 163 metric tonnes. If the refinery should operate in a double shift, it has a capacity of 300 to 340 metric tonnes per annum.

The Minister of Trade, Mr. Alan Kyerematen, interacting with media after touring the refinery, explained that government will provide all the support required for gold refineries in the country to succeed.

“Obviously, if the company requires any other form of public investment we will look at it purely on a commercial basis,” he said.

He added: “What we have seen here shows that government is on the right track in making the conscious effort of adding value to its natural resources. Our primary desire is to make sure that they have successes as a private company”.

Commending management for the excellent operations being undertaken, Mr. Kyerematen said: “As a government we can talk about industrialising the country, and we believe that it is the only way we can sustain our economy as it provides opportunity for us to create quality job opportunities for citizens”.

He indicated that for over 100 years the country has depended on gold and cocoa. “Regrettably, we have been shipping our raw gold without refining it. It provides an opportunity for us to expand the size of our economy, so we take value addition very seriously.”

He commended the company again for ensuring that over 90 percent of its staff are Ghanaian.

By: Ekow Essabra-Mensah | thebftonline.com | Ghana