…MD working hard to ensure sustainability
The revival of the Prestea Sankofa Gold Mine in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality of the Western Region has brought a sigh of relief to the people, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) whose businesses went down the drain.
A visit to the town shows that trading activities are going on smoothly, suppliers are happy, food vendors and caterers who moved out of the town are now back and have been engaged by the company.
The Prestea Huni Valley Municipal Assembly internally generated fund is also increasing steadily, and the economy of the town is also growing.
Simon Otoo, a landlord, mentioned that over the last two years, his six-bedroom flat and shops have been rented.
“When the company closed down, the shops were not operating, and as those who were staying here were also workers of Sankofa, they all left. Now everything is going on well, we are happy the relationship between us is cordial, and they have been meeting with the community quarterly.”
Madam Joyce Amoah added that: “My 28-year-old daughter has been employed at the catering department of the company while I also supply their kitchen with vegetables and fruits. We thank God that some of the people in this town are, at least, benefitting from this company in one way or the other”.
The company was shut down in 2014 due to mismanagement. It was highly indebted to a lot of suppliers and companies, and they couldn’t sustain it, hence, the closure.
According to the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Justice Acquah, during the 2016 election campaign, the current President, Nana Akufo-Addo, told the people of Prestea and its environs that he would do everything possible for the company to bounce back when given the nod.
“Immediately they gave him the mandate and he took over in 2017, he admonished the owners of the company to do everything possible to bring the company back. Technically, the company belongs to the government, but GNPC owes 90 percent shares and then Government of Ghana, 10% shares. So the team that was in charge at that time, headed by Dr. K. K Sarpong, formed an interim committee to make sure that the place is back to work. Everything about Prestea revolves around this very company. When the company went down, the whole place was silent”, he elaborated.
Mr. Acquah mentioned that there are two mining companies in the Prestea township. The Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL), which is now Future Global Resources, also went down and they were looking for investors; so technically, the Prestea township was shut down.
He said that in 2018, through the interim management, the company was brought back and ever since, there have been a lot of challenges.
“Management upon management have worked tirelessly to make sure that the place keeps moving on. I am the third MD ever since the company was revived, like my predecessors, we will also do our best to ensure that we sustain what the government has done”, he added.
Mr. Acquah pointed out that Sankofa Gold Mine is the only state-owned mining company in the country, and management is doing everything possible to maintain it.
“Basically, we process tailing – residue separated in the preparation of the ore. We have our own concessions which we call Bondai 1 and Bondai 2 as a result of the mining activities which have taking place in Prestea over the 100 years of mining until recently when the government introduced the small-scale mining. Our company gets the tailing from the small-scale mining, they take about 60 percent of the gold from the soil and their waste, and we also bring them here to do about 99 percent recovery,” he explained.
He added that in recent times, a lot of these tailing processing plants are springing up, most especially in the Western Region. He said until then, this was the only processing plant in the country way back 1997 when it was commissioned by former President Jerry John Rawlings.
“So, every tailing in the country was coming to Prestea, and that made the company excel. But when you look at what is happening now, we have about five registered tailing companies and this is in only the Western Region. We do mine in 13 out of the 16 regions, but none of these processing plants is found in any of the regions. So, we should ask ourselves, why is everybody targeting Western Region? We go as far as Bolga, Upper West, Upper East, Eastern Region to bring tailing. So, why are people not looking at those places; there are a lot of deposits in the West. We always pride ourselves in the fact that we produce 60 percent of the gold which is mined in Ghana and that is true,” he further explained.
He asked: “So is it because of competition? We are all competing for the same material which is around. It is in one way or the other affecting our production, but since this is a state agency, sometimes we do have an upper hand in terms of getting the clearance from the regulators”.
Mr. Acquah mentioned that currently, the company has employed 321 workers – both permanent and casual. About 70 percent of the workers are from the Prestea township and indirectly, over 1000 people are involved in terms of supply. “We give priority to the indigenes here, and the relationship between us is very cordial.”
He stated that GNPC invested US$23m to get the company on its feet again. “Currently, production is going on smoothly; and within two to three years, we should be able to clear all our debts – that is paying our suppliers and creditors. We are looking at getting our own concession; we have a crusher here which has not been used since the company was established in1997, and this can be serviced. Also, we are looking at taking the ore ourselves to increase production,” he concluded.