Ghana will certify the value of gold exports as part of efforts to tighten controls on the sector to ensure the state receives all revenues it is due, the vice-president said on Tuesday.
Ghana, Africa’s second-largest gold miner after South Africa, earned US$5.78billion from exports of the metal last year – up 17.6 percent on 2016 central bank data showed.
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia told a regional meeting on the oil and mining sectors that Ghana’s previous administration had allowed companies to assay gold produced from their mines themselves.
However, he said, Ghanaian law requires that the state-run Precious Minerals Marketing Company test and validate mineral produce before export.
“We have now begun conversations about the process of making sure every single bar of gold leaving our shores is properly weighed, tested, valued and accounted for,” Bawumia said.
Government is also considering passing legislation stipulating that at least 50 percent of Ghana’s gold output will be refined locally within five years, he said.
Bawumia did not accuse any mining firms of wrongdoing, and did not suggest past exports had been undervalued.
But President Nana Akufo-Addo, who took office last year, has said about US$5 billion worth of revenues from gold exports to the United Arab Emirates are unaccounted for.
He did not give a timescale or details to support the claim, but industry watchers believe unreported shipments represent smuggled gold produced by Ghana’s thousands of artisanal miners, whose activities are not properly documented.
Government banned small-scale mining as part of a general clamp-down on illegal miners last year. Their activities have heavily polluted some fresh-water supplies, and in some instances obstructed the operations of concession holders.
Mining firms operating in Ghana include Newmont Mining Corporation, Gold Fields, Anglogold Ashanti and Asanko Gold.