A seven-member Local Management Committee (LMC) has been inaugurated for the implementation of a mining community development scheme under the Minerals Development Fund at Tarkwa in the Western Region.
The committee is to facilitate socio-economic development of the communities in which mining activities are undertaken and are affected by the mining operations.
The Minerals Development Fund Act (912) Section 19 has a distinct provision that establishes LMCs. The mandate of the committee is to oversee the direct development of mining communities. These committees will be required to produce development plans in consonance with the National Medium Development Plans for implementation.
The committees will be resourced according to Section 18 through the 20% mineral royalties’ distribution under section 21 (3) (b), and donations from mining companies and other related businesses. Section (20) of Act also empowers the LMCs to operate and administer the Scheme.
Mr. Kwaku Asomah Kyeremeh, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, at the committee’s inauguration presented a cheque for GH¢100,000 to be used as seed-money for their activities.
He explained that in order to promote the direct development of mining communities in the country, government in 2016 passed the Minerals Development Fund Act, (Act 912).
The main objective of the Act, he said, is to provide financial resources for the direct benefit of mining communities, holders of interest in land within mining communities, traditional and local government authorities within mining communities, and institutions responsible for the development of mining in Ghana.
“The Minerals Development Fund Board and Local Management Committee, linked together in their cause and in their need, will offer the best sustainable initiatives to expedite implementation of the Mining Community Development Scheme,” he added.
Even though Mr. Kyeremah said currently there are several socio-political, socio-environmental and socio-economic issues bedevilling the mining sector whose impacts are deleterious, government shall not resign or fail.
“We shall continue to introduce sustainable measures to counteract mining problems. We are also aware of the 12% capping that affects the mineral royalties, and we’re in talks with the Finance Ministry to stop capping the MDF,” he stated.
“It is my hope and expectation that under this new strategic Scheme, the development of Tarkwa will better reflect the wealth its soil produces to eliminate agitation by the youth and also uplift the face of Tarkwa into the long-desired ‘Gold City’,” the minister said.
He announced that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Minerals Development Fund (MDF), will be organising annual Minerals Development Achievement Awards (MDAA).
The MDA Award, he explained, will seek to reward mining companies which have contributed highly to the Fund, the best LMCs; the most complied beneficiary institutions; individuals and institutions that have made some significant contributions to the Fund.
Ms. Esther Happy Edjeani, Board Chairperson of the Minerals Development Fund said: “We respect the right, the culture and the traditions of local people, and believe in a bottom-up approach for local development. We therefore entreat you to be transparent when engaging the communities at all levels; to understand their plight, prioritise their requests and apply funds efficiently to achieve the best out of the meagre resources.
“I want to promise the committee the Board’s commitment and support. We are solidly behind you, and believe that together we will succeed in our efforts to support initiatives and interventions aimed at improving the living conditions of mining communities. I am also convinced that you will also enjoy the cooperation and support of all our cherished stakeholders,” she said.
Prof. Jerry Kumah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines Technology (UMaT), noted that the inability of mining companies to meet all the demands often leads to strained relations between mining companies and their host communists – with associated adverse effects on mining companies.
“I believe the establishment of these LMCs will help the Minerals Development Fund to perform the function of facilitating socio-economic development for these mining communities, to avoid disturbing the cordial relations existing between the mining communities and mining companies.”
He appealed for the LMCs to consider education as an important part of their programmes when making decisions about disbursement of funds allocated to the communities.
He said UMaT is ready to offer any support to the LMCs in this area and several others with their expertise.