A chat with the outgoing 38th Chamber of Mines President Eric Asubonteng 


I’m satisfied with the strategic positioning of the chamber as a development partner to gov’t

“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” — Harry S. Truman

Obviously, the sterling status and achievements of the Ghana Chamber of Mines over the past four years are not at a standstill or retardation in the development of the mining sector, thank goodness for the courageous and humbling leadership of its president.

After four years of being at the forefront of leveraging the benefits generated from the mining industry to create enduring value for all stakeholders in the sector and the general economic growth of the country, Mr. Eric Asubonteng bows out as the president of the Chamber of Mines.

Indeed, he will go down in the annals of the chamber’s history as a leader who had a vision and steered the affairs of the mining industry players to have a critical voice in government’s decisions and policies concerning the mining sector.

As Warren Bennis once said: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”, the 38th president of the Ghana Chamber of mines had to steer his passion and that of his mining colleagues to bring about positive and instrumental change in the mining sector, and there is enough evidence to show he did just that.

Guided by the principle of ‘leadership is consensus building’, he gave team members equal consideration by seeking their input and concerns. He was very welcoming of all ideas and suggestions, so the team could come to an agreement and keep the interest of the industry above all.

“The chamber is run by a consensus; you cannot be a leader and command or direct people to do things your way – whether they like it or not. So, on a consensus basis and as a team we have made some great gains as a chamber,” exact words of Mr. Asubonteng.

According to him, the most important achievement for him as president is the strategic positioning of the chamber as a development partner to government.

This, however, was not devoid of challenges and differences; but with his capacity to translate vision to reality, an effective channel was created to build synergy and solve differences between players and the regulator amicably.

“To me, the most important achievement is the strategic positioning of the chamber as a development partner to government. We have had our differences with government; however, we have created a forum in which we hold robust discussions on those issues, and in the end establish constructive ways of moving forward.

“Instead of throwing shots at each other in public, we sort out issues in that robust constructive platform that we have. For me, that is the single most important achievement of the chamber. Every other thing or topic of interest draws from that,” he stressed.

Entry and mining industry career

Mr. Asubonteng started his career in the mining field as an accountant with AngloGold Ashanti in 2003, transitioned to operations manager after a few years, and went through the levels to become Managing Director of AngloGold – a position he held simultaneously with the Presidency of the Chamber of Mines and still holds onto.

Becoming a managing director of AngloGold at a time when the firm faced serious challenges that led to its shutting down, he steered the affairs of the company phenomenally, and brought the firm back to resumption of operations after a huge investment.

Touching on the driving force and inspiration to work amicably with government to move the chamber to this position, he stated that the vision was to create wealth for the country through its mineral resources or extractives.

Achievements stemming from the constructive partnership under Mr. Asubonteng’s leadership.

According to the outgoing president, though government will try to pursue its interest through policies, we worked with them to ensure those policies and initiatives are delivered in a way that does not cause any unintended major consequences.

This strong position held by his leadership, he said, helped to work hand-in-hand with government to deliver on some of the initiatives it aimed to implement in the mining sector smoothly. Some of which are listed as follows:

Positioning Ghana as a hub for mining inputs production and supply in West Africa

“In the last few years, the chamber has set itself the vision of working with various stakeholders to help position Ghana as the mining support services and inputs hub in West Africa. An idea and initiative that I am very passionate about.

“This is a vision being driven strongly, as well, by the Government of Ghana through the leadership of our sector minister. We are indeed on the same page and share this common vision. If we are to realise this vision, however, we will have to be very deliberate and strategic in our approach,” he emphasised.

Local Content. With the belief that the most sustainable way of contributing to the economy of Ghana is to increase the linkages between the mining industry and other sectors of the economy, under his watch, the chamber has demonstrated its commitment to local content by helping to grow Ghanaian companies – particularly Ghanaian-owned contract mining companies – even ahead of the introduction of new local content regulations.

On the part of the chamber, “We have engaged the services of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) to undertake a study on the linkages between the minerals and non-mining sector. The objective of the study by UMaT is to inform policy formulation on ways to maximise the potential of the mining sector’s supply chain for national development”.

BoG’s gold purchasing initiative to shore up the country’s gold reserves. Under this programme, the Bank of Ghana would purchase gold from domestic producers in the local currency and count the gross value of its gold holdings as part of its reserves.

“I am glad to say that some member-companies of the chamber have held and continue to hold discussions with the Bank of Ghana on commercial and contractual arrangements to be put in place for such sales. In fact, Newmont Ghana has already traded in that regard,” he said.

In-country refinery. The Chamber has played a critical role in the policy development, and has representation on the broad-based committee set up by government to pursue this objective. This will help to ensure that the refineries established in Ghana meet internationally recognised standards, and have the right certifications – befitting the status of Ghana as one of the leading gold producers in Africa.

Road construction initiative. The chamber has worked with the Ministry of Finance on a framework that allows member-companies to finance the construction of roads in mining communities.

Security. On security, the chamber engaged with the Ghana Police Service and the Ministry of National Security through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to find a solution to the forcible illegal encroachment on the concessions of member-companies, and in some cases threatening lives and property. This led to the training and deployment of a special unit of the Ghana Police to some mining sites.

Tertiary Education Fund for UMaT. In October 2019, the chamber set up the Tertiary Education Fund (TEF), with the primary objective of keeping Ghana’s mining industry on an upward trajectory with a regular stream of highly qualified and technically astute professionals.

The fund receives US$442,500 annually for five years to support tertiary education, giving initial priority to the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT).

Appreciation to the Chamber of Mines

Mr. Asubonteng, in his closing remarks, took the opportunity to appreciate key stakeholders who made his reign possible and successful, especially the staff of the secretariat and the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Mr. Sulemanu Koney. He also expressed appreciation to the sector minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor; the Executive Director of EPA, Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu and his team at the EPA; the CEO of the Minerals Commission, Martin Ayisi; the Chief Inspector of Mines, Kofi Adjei; and the team at the Minerals Commission for their support and collaboration during his presidency.

“I urge you to give the same or even more support to the new President of the chamber, Joshua Mortoti, to enable the chamber to continue to be the true development partner that it is,” he concluded.

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