It is expected that the country will soon unveil a new policy document to guide exploitation of the emerging green minerals sector.
As the country continues to make discoveries, and given the significant importance of green minerals to the current energy transition target, it is hoped that the policy will end the exportation of critical minerals including lithium, bauxite and iron among others in their raw state, which denies the country opportunity to add real value to the economy.
To this end, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said: “A technical committee is finalizing a policy document on the exploitation, management and utilization of our green minerals, including lithium, for the consideration of Cabinet.
“Our goal is to ensure that, as much as possible, we retain the value chain of these and other minerals in our country’s future,” he added.
The minister was speaking at a ‘Natural Resources Stakeholder Dialogue’ in Accra, and noted that government is putting in place the necessary building blocks “to construct a viable, sustainable, effective, efficient and environmentally-sound natural resources sector that generates employment, and contributes meaningfully to the development of our country”.
While it is the responsibility of government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to regulate and manage the utilisation of these resources, Mr. Jinapor recognised the role of other stakeholders.
Furthermore, he noted that the management of natural resources is not just about protection and exploitation, but also more importantly about sustainability, environmental protection, mitigating the climate crisis and ensuring optimal benefit for the owners of these resources.
“That is why under the instructions of President Akufo-Addo we have been taking several measures over the past few years to ensure the effective, efficient and sustainable management of our natural resources; and even, significantly, implementing policies aimed at retaining the value chain of these resources in-country,” he stated.
“We have ramped-up local content and local participation in the mining industry by increasing items on the Local Procurement List of goods and services reserved for Ghanaians from 29 in 2018 to 50 this year,” he disclosed.
This, he indicated, will ensure that the country retains some US$3billion, annually, which would otherwise have been exported.
He further reiterated the ongoing engagement with Ghana Chamber of Mines and the Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure that large-scale mining companies list on the Ghana Stock Exchange. Already, Asante Gold Corporation has been listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange, and several other mining companies are in the process of doing so.
Also, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his keynote address at the event said the importance of natural resources to humankind cannot be overemphasised.
He said: “Our everyday lives depend, one way or another, on our natural resources. Today, most of the things we use – from electricity to smartphones to the vehicles we drive, are derived from our natural resources. The lives and livelihoods of millions of our citizens depend on these natural resources”.
Among others, President Akufo-Addo noted that the country has not always done well in negotiations with companies which exploit natural resources. “Among other things – such as corruption, incompetence and political instability – we have mostly been short-sighted in these negotiations, and therefore end up settling for less.
“And worse still, we have until recently failed to put in place the requisite frameworks which will enable us to establish the highest value of the extractive industry’s value chain in our continent,” he said.
He listed extensive tax and royalty exemptions, intolerable labour practices and lack of value addition in-country as having resulted in extraordinary profits to mining companies – at the expense of host countries, as some of the things facing the continent.
To this end, he said: “We cannot repeat these mistakes. While we understand that mining companies must make a profit from their business, this must not be done at the expense of the lands and peoples providing these resources.
“We must, and should, harness our natural resources for sustainable development. This requires us to ensure that the exploitation of these resources does not destroy the natural environment which provides us with subsistence,” he said, among others.