As a country we must give equal attention to harness the full benefits of “Development Minerals” like what pertains to gold, bauxite, manganese, and diamonds because of its great potential for providing jobs, enhancing economic growth and improving the nation’s trade balance.
What are Development Minerals?
By definition, the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) and the European Union (EU) define Development Minerals as all minerals that are mined, processed, manufactured and mostly used in the domestic economy without exporting but used in sectors such as construction, industry, tourism and agriculture sectors. In the past, these minerals were termed as low-value minerals due to its low price per mass and its underestimated potential to boost economic growth and create jobs.
Examples of Development Minerals include but not limited to;
- Construction minerals: chalk, limestone, dolomite, brick clay, gypsum, slate, building stone, sand, marble, gravel;
- Semi-precious stones like ruby, emerald, tourmaline, sapphire;
- Industrial minerals: ceramics, bentonite, dolomite, emery, graphite, potash, magnesium, graphite, salt;
- Dimension stones: granite, basalt, slate, limestone, marble, sandstone slate, alabaster, soapstone.
What Does the Minerals and Mining Act 703 Say About Development Minerals?
Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703,2006) partially recognizes what Development Minerals are. The Act uses the term “Industrial Minerals” and interprets it as basalt, clay, granite, gravel, gypsum, laterite, limestone, marble, rock, sand, sandstone, slate, talc, salt. The Act gives room for the Minister of Lands and Natural Resource to declare occasionally by notice published in a gazette and to include other minerals.
My checks reveal that no notice has been published since Act 703 came into force in the year 2006. To put “Industrial Minerals” is the right frame, the term is a subclass of “Development Minerals” which includes three other subclasses; Dimension Stones, Semi-Precious Stone, and Construction Minerals.
Using the ACP and EU framework, careful analysis and categorization of the aforementioned minerals listed as examples of Industrial mineral as per the interpretation of the Minerals and Mining Act 703 shows that;
- Two (2) of the aforementioned minerals (salt, talc) fall under the industrial mineral subclass
- Two (2) of the above-mentioned minerals (basalt, granite) fall under dimensions stones
- Whereas, ten (10) of the minerals aforementioned (gypsum, clay, gravel, laterite, limestone, marble, rock, sand, sandstone, slate) fall under the construction minerals subclass.
For the reason that 71% of the minerals listed in Act 703 are rather construction minerals, this creates confusion on how Act 703 defines industrial mineral how the existing literature on Development Minerals defines Industrial minerals.
Nations like Uganda, Cameroon, Guinea-Conakry, Zambia, Jamaica, and Fiji have committed to developing the Development Mineral sector. In the Caribbean, Development Minerals support the construction and tourism sectors.
According to UNDP, the prospects of the Development Minerals sector to reducing poverty levels and earning more income is huge. The 2017 baseline assessment report for Development Minerals in Jamaica predicted that the country could receive up to USD 7 billion annually through increased production of limestone and value-added items. This figure is above the USD 1.7 million earned in 2015. Again, the report predicted the creation of an estimated 1,750 direct jobs and 7,000 to 8,750 indirect jobs whiles contributing a 2.3% growth rate to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
I recommend the need to amend relevant sections of Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703,2006) from the use of the term “Industrial Minerals” to “Development Minerals”.
This will align with current knowledge and provide a broad scope and focus on the mineral base of Ghana. This is key to ensuring the right focus on the Development Minerals sector whiles harnessing its enormous potential for providing jobs, enhancing economic growth and improving the nation’s trade balance.