Ghana’s current place as the largest producer of gold in Africa pales into insignificance when one considers that the country continues to experience disappointing results in translating this mineral wealth into broad economic development for the benefit of its citizenry – especially mining communities.
Host communities of these deposits are often victims of social, economic and environmental ills: such as the displacement of indigenous communities, loss of livelihoods, conflicts and human rights abuses, as well as diversion of watercourses and loss of biodiversity due to environmental destruction caused by mining activities.
These sentiments were expressed by the General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU), Abdul-Moomin Gbana, on the occasion of the maiden Mineworkers’ Week celebration from June 21 – 25.
“In 2019 alone, the mining sector’s contribution by way of mineral revenue to the economy of Ghana from producing mining companies, according to a report by the Ghana Chamber of Mines, was US$4.6billion.
“Similarly, within the same period of 2020, total mineral revenue from producing mining companies stood at US$5.1billion.”
Gbana observed that these mineral revenues were generated from typical mining communities such as Tarkwa, Akyempim, Ayanfuri, Damang, Akyem, Ahafo, Manso Nkran and Obuasi.
Ghana’s mining sector contributes 41 percent of total exports earnings, 14 percent of total tax revenues and 5.5 percent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Despite these revenues from these mining communities and the country’s current place as the largest producer of gold in Africa, modern-day Ghana continues to experience disappointing results in translating this mineral wealth into broad economic development.
“A tour of mining communities in this country would reveal some similar and chilling characteristics: wretched and unplanned infrastructure, if there ever existed any; huge infrastructural gaps; lack of access to potable drinking water; polluted water-bodies; and environmental degradation,” he added.
“One can therefore conclude that the paradox associated with mineral-rich economies which sadly remain poor and hopeless, despite these resources, has regrettably become a permanent feature of mining communities in the country and African as a whole.”
As we commemorate the maiden Annual Mineworkers’ Week under the theme ‘Integrating labour and community interest for socioeconomic development’, let me take this opportunity to commend the government of Ghana on passage of the Mineral Development Fund Act 2016 (Act 912) and setting up the Mineral Development Fund Secretariat, as this is a substantial step in responding to the deteriorating infrastructure and glaring infrastructural deficit in these communities.
He also added that the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union believes the current 20 percent share of annual mineral royalties allocated to the Mineral Development Fund is woefully inadequate and ought to be increased to at least 50%, if indeed we are committed to seeing the transformation of mining communities as envisaged in the Mineral Development Fund Act.
The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union is advocating for setting up a Mining Sector Infrastructure Fund under the Mineral Development Fund when its share of annual mineral royalties is increased to 50 percent as proposed above.
Meanwhile, James Nunoo – National Executive Council member of the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union, said one cannot talk about mining without the mention of Obuasi. “Obuasi Mine contributed US$230million in mineral revenue to the state, representing about 5 percent of total mineral revenue generated by producing mining companies, in the year 2020.”
The poor state of road networks in mining communities continues to be a nightmare for both inhabitants and commuters, he added.
“Due to the poor state of the road network, safety and security continue to be a major challenge for inhabitants and commuters, as many innocent citizens suffer molestation, injuries and sometimes gruesome death due to road accidents occasioned by these bad roads and armed-robbery attacks.”
Mr. Blay Thompson, National Executive Council Member, noted that Tarkwa and its catchment area accounted for US$2.2billion out of the US$4.6billion dollars of total mineral revenue realised in 2019, representing 49 percent of total mineral revenue for that year.
“Similarly, in 2020 total mineral revenue from producing mining companies stood at US$5.1billion with these same 7 producing companies accounting for US$2.4billion, representing about 48 percent of total mineral revenue.”
After several decades of mining in Tarkwa, Bogosu, Damang, Prestea, Akyempim and Ayanfuri, these communities remain shantytowns with very deplorable road networks.
Peter Bako Wilson, another National Executive Council Member, said after several years of mining in Ahafo the residents have not seen any major facelift commensurate with the mineral wealth generated from the community.
The few roads in the area continue to deteriorate every passing day without any clear plan of how they will be fixed, Wilson decried. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Amankwah noted that in 2020 total mineral revenue from producing mining companies stood at US$5.1billion with Newmont Akyem accounting for US$660million, representing about 13 percent of total mineral revenue.
“After several years of mining in New Abirem and its catchment area, the poor state of the area’s road network has seen their wives, sisters and mothers suffer needless miscarriages, still-births and sometimes death because of these unjustifiably unavoidable death-traps called roads.”