The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr. Sulemanu Koney has called on government to exclude mining communities from the capping of mineral royalty funds for development and ensure a quick release of royalties meant for mining communities’ development projects due to the developmental challenges mining communities face.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day CSR Framework and Mining Engagement Workshop organized by the Ghana Gold Expo Foundation and the University of Oxford African Studies Centre in Takoradi, Dr. Koney said the removal of the capping will complement Corporate Social Investment projects of mining companies.
“It is not just a portion of the Mineral Royalty from the Mineral Development Fund which has been capped. I believe it is statewide, including various earmarked funds which have been capped. Our view is that, because of the developmental challenges within the mining communities, they would be excluded from this capping since it reduces the quantum of what goes to mining communities for development. In fact, if we are all interested in promoting and expediting action in the development of mining communities, we would want a situation where they are spared the capping, so that the full proportion of the mineral royalty which by law, under the MDF, we have to get to the communities for development is implemented. So that is the request we are making of government, so that it will complement what mining communities are doing by way of Corporate Social Investment“, he said.
Dr. Koney further explained that government’s failure to respect laws on the timely release of mineral royalties for communities’ development coupled with the introduction of capping on the Minerals royalties is hurting mining communities’ development and assembly projects.
“For example, if a mining community is expected to receive a 100, the capping could result in 75 getting to the community. The question is whether even that 75 would ultimately get to the community in good time to promote project execution. That is another challenge we have. So it is a combination of delays in the release of mineral royalties and also the capping, and if you put this together, it becomes a major issue for the development of mining communities.
“The last few months we’ve gone round visiting some of these District Assemblies and some of the community skills development schemes, and you could see that they lack funding to execute and complete some of the projects. So we want a consistent flow of funds from government coming back to the communities to complement what the mining companies are actually doing, with that arrangement am sure very soon you will see improvement in the living conditions in the mining communities”, he added.
Speaking on efforts by the Ghana Chamber of Mines in Ensuring Infrastructure Development Projects and Sustainability in mining communities, the Chamber of Mines Chief Executive explained further that as much as the mining companies are committed in their support to mining communities’ development through their numerous CSI projects, it requires government also investing in the communities what it takes from the mines.
“As mining companies, we are committed to the communities, and we saw it in the presentation of various aspects of development projects done by mining companies such as road projects, infrastructure by way of health in the coastal facilities. This is not just being done within the boardrooms of mining companies, we do have a series of deep engagements with the communities. It is a more bottom-up approach, finding what their needs are. What we are asking for is a complement from government because a portion of the mineral royalties that mining companies pay sit with government and government has to support and complement what mining companies are doing”, he emphasized.
Miles Larmer of the University of Oxford African Studies Centre, highlighting CSR in Mining in Africa, reiterated that failure to implement CSR in mining areas may heighten social unrest as good CSR can improve the relationship between the mining companies and the communities.
The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah who graced the occasion said government alone cannot be responsible for the development of mining communities and therefore agreed with the Chamber of Mines as well as other participating speakers from the mining companies, suppliers and regulators on the need to collaborate to develop mining communities.