The President of Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr. Eric Asubonteng, has called on government to provide specific protection on the concessions of various mines across the country.
“In the past we have had arrangements with government to have public security officers stationed at the mines, and this has been withdrawn,” he said.
As a result, he said, it has exposed some of the mines to challenges such as spikes in illegal activities on their concessions.
Mr. Asubonteng mentioned that the current strategy of government in deploying its security officers to a mine only after the occurrence of serious incidents does not augur well for operations of the members and strategic interests of the state.
“We think, in the bigger scheme of things, it is not very helpful; and not the best for the image of the country,” he pointed out.
“It is common knowledge that the private security guards our member companies contract are not equipped and trained to handle the threat posed by armed illegal miners and other miscreants, who pose grave challenges to the rule of law and the country’s reputation as the bastion of mining in West African and the larger continent.
“There can be an alternative arrangement where an elite police force can come in to fill the gap that we see at the moment, and still be able provide the same level of protection we give to both existing and potential investors in the mining industry to boost the level of confidence that is good not only for the industry, but also the country as a whole,” he added.
Mr. Asubonteng was speaking in an interview with media at the opening of the Ghana Chamber of Mines training programme for state security agencies at Cape Coast in the Central Region.
The training programme, which is the 5th in a series, is to build the capacity of security agencies in the country to ensure sanity in the system.
It was on the theme ‘Supporting the state security agencies to deliver effective protection services: The role of the private sector’.
Mr. Asubonteng assured government of the Chamber’s support in its quest to create alternative livelihood programmes for people in mining towns.
As a matter of fact, he said, the Chamber and its members have already undertaken similar projects in their respective operational areas, which will complement the government initiative in that regard.
He said in last 10 years, for instance, the minerals and mining sectors contributions to direct domestic fiscal receipts was in excess of GH¢12billion, which translates into an average share of 18.5% of direct domestic revenue mobilised by the Ghana Revenue Authority.
In the same vein, he said the mining industry has also been the country’s primary source of foreign exchange from export of the commodities. It accounted for more than 40% of the country’s export earnings in the last decade.
“It is obvious that the minerals sector’ health has a significant indirect impact on the stability of our local currency. Regarding employment, the minerals and mining sector is estimated to provide employment for about 1% of the country’s workforce directly,” he said.
Mr. Asubonteng added that for the mining industry to sustain, and even improve on, its contribution to the state and other stakeholders, it requires a peaceful and conducive climate to thrive. The importance of security to the industry cannot be overemphasised.
Mr. Kwamena Duncan, Central Region Minister, urged the Chamber of Mines to be persistent and have high-level engagements with government on issues raised.
“Your industry is very important to socio-economic development of the country, and I would encourage you to have thorough engagements with government,” he added.