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"Protection, preservation of our natural resources requires all-hands-on-deck approach" - Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo says the protection and preservation of Ghana's natural resources requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.


The President made these remarks while speaking at a Natural Resources Stakeholders Dialogue held in Accra.


Addressing a gathering, President Akufo-Addo said "Fellow Ghanaians, I do not say these to shirk the responsibility of Government, but to emphasise that the protection and preservation of our natural resources requires all-hands-on-deck approach"


He noted that these resources have the potential to transform Ghana and indeed the continent.


"As many of you may be aware, for several years, the extractive sector has been the largest tax base of our country, apart from providing thousands of employment to several young men and women"


"The truth, however, is that, over the years, we have not benefited, optimally, from these resources, due to our overdependence on the export of raw products. There is no gainsaying that the real value of the natural resources sector lies in value addition"


"The global aluminium industry, for example, from bauxite mining, through alumina smelting and aluminium production, is estimated to be in excess of One Hundred and Eighty Billion US Dollars (US$180,000,000,000.00). But raw bauxite accounts for only seven point six six percent (7.6%) of this market, while the remaining ninety-two point three four percent (92.4%) is generated from processed bauxite"


"This is not different from gold, iron ore, manganese, diamond, cobalt, or lithium. Indeed, currently, African countries involved in the production of lithium are said to be making just about ten percent (10%) of the entire value chain of the electric battery industry"


He also revealed that his Government has prioritised local content and local participation, as well as value addition in the natural resources sector to ensure that it derive optimal benefits from these God-given resources.


"Through the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC), established in 2018, we are working to ensure value addition to our bauxite resources, through refining, smelting, aluminium production, as well as production of other downstream aluminium products"


"I have been briefed that the Four Project Agenda of GIADEC, which I launched in 2021, is progressing steadily, with Project 2, 3 and 4 approved by Cabinet and are at different stages of implementation. Project one is still under negotiations, and will soon be put before Cabinet"


Presidebt Akufo-Addo further mentioned that the implementation of the Four Project Agenda is expected to optimise production in the upstream industry, and spur production and job creation in the downstream sector.


With an estimated bauxite resource base of over nine hundred million metric tonnes (900,000,000Mt), he was hopeful that the sector can serve as an anchor for industrialisation if it continues to pursue value-added policies.


"We are doing the same with our iron ore resources, through the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC), initiated in 2019. With global automotive giants such as, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Suzuki and Sinotruck, all established here in our country, developing an integrated iron and steel industry, along with an integrated aluminium industry, is not just desirable, but necessary for the development we yearn for"


"By section 28 of the GIADEC law, and section 30 of the GIISDEC law, the Minister for Mines is empowered to make Regulations to ensure that no bauxite or iron ore in their raw state are exported out of the country after five years of the coming into force of these laws. With the policies and other measures we are putting in place, we intend to invoke these provisions of our laws, and very soon, bauxite and iron ore will not be exported in their raw state from the country. We will ensure that the highest value of these minerals are retained in our country"


"We cannot forget lithium and the other green minerals, which have been described as the minerals of the future, due to their importance to the green energy transition. Fortunately, for us, we have discovered lithium in commercial quantities, and occurrences of cobalt, nickel, copper, lead, zinc and chromium in parts of our country"


"We cannot do with these minerals, what we have done with our gold resources over the years. I am happy to learn that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is finalising a policy document for the exploitation, utilisation and management of these crucial minerals for the consideration of Cabinet in the few weeks ahead of us"


President Akufo-Addo assured the gathering that his government will do whatever it takes to ensure that the exploitation and utilisation of these green minerals are done in an environmentally-sound manner, and in a way that ensures optimal benefit to the people of Ghana.

 

"We have, through a Public Private Partnership, established a Four Hundred Kilogrammes per day capacity refinery, to refine the gold we produce. Work is progressing steadily on securing a London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Certification to be able to easily trade our refined gold on the international market"


"Today, I open this dialogue not to discuss just illegal small scale mining, instead, the broader consequential issue of how we exploit utilise and manage the natural resources of our nation, and particularly, I should say, what has been described as the Green Minerals, the minerals of the future, in order to harness these resources for our sustainable collective good"


President Akufo-Addo reminded tye gathering that the importance of natural resources to humankind cannot be overemphasised.


"Our everyday lives, depend, one way or the other, on our natural resources. Today, most of the things we use, from electricity to smart phones to the vehicles we drive, are derived from our natural resources"


He hinted that the lives and livelihoods of millions of its citizens depend on these natural resources.


"Undoubtedly, our continent is blessed with a lot of natural resources. After centuries of exploitation, Africa still holds some thirty percent (30%) of the world’s mineral reserves, and even higher proportions of gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese. But the contribution of these resources to our socio-economic development has been somewhat awful. With all these resources, we should have been the richest continent in the world. The irony, however, is that African remains the poorest continent on the planet"


"Recent data from the World Bank shows that some sixty percent (60%) of the world's extreme poor live in sub-Saharan Africa, with most resource-rich countries on our continent being among the poorest in the world, including countries that hold huge deposits of iron ore, diamonds, bauxite and the largest rutile reserves in the world; the largest producer of cobalt, second largest producer of industrial diamonds, and fifth largest producer of copper; as well as the world’s largest reserves of bauxite"


"Worst of all, many of the areas where these resources are found appear to be among the most deprived areas in the world. In our country for example, Obuasi, which, for years, hosted the richest gold mine in the world, remains largely underdeveloped. The story is no different from other areas such as Tarkwa, Prestea, Wassa, and Bibiani, which have for centuries been the attraction for adventurers and fortune seekers"


On his part, the Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, Ato Afful said "This centre of planet earth, is endowed with an abundance of natural resources; including arable lands, forests, water bodies, minerals etc. However, these resources are in the main finite and require proactive measures to nurture and protect them for our collective good today, and importantly, the next generation; living and unborn, as our forbears graciously did for us"


He noted that the natural resources, and associated extractive industries, have been critical in the national revenue base, and instrumental to national progress likewise development over the years. 


He stressed that Ghana is noted for its abundant natural resources, which include gold, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, lithium ore, and until recently, abundant hardwood timber"


The MD of GCGL noted that the mining sector has played an important part in the country's economic development, supplying jobs to people and revenue to government to support other initiatives.


"However, the excessive, unrestrained, unbridled and unrepentant extraction and use of natural resources has resulted in irreparable damage, in some instances, to our environment and other disasters"


"Illegal mining, in particular, has had a negative impact on the environment, with associated impact on deforestation, excessive water pollution, and the destruction of natural habitats, fauna and flora"


"Illegal mining, a function of poor land usage, costs the government money and eventually harms the country's economic progress and international brand reputation. The impact of illegal mining, or “Galamsey”, as has become known in our local parlance, on our environment and public health, is enormous and cannot be overlooked for much longer"


"Much has been said. A lot has been done, and achieved. We need to filter and distill the thoughts put forth into concrete implementation plans through a multi-stakeholder and national action plan that we can measure and evaluate over a defined period. This is a collective responsibility. Under the mandate of government, and the rule of law"


"Your Excellency, as a progressive nation and well-meaning people, we can not, will not and shall not ignore the evolving menace of unregulated and uncoordinated illegal mining, and indiscriminate land acquisition and use"

 

Stressing on some primary considerations, Mr. Afful said "ecure a more sustainable future, we must approach natural resource management more holistically. This will entail balancing economic progress, environmental conservation, and social welfare with our revenues, and growth/developmental aspirations. We must collaborate to develop novel solutions that support sustainable production and consumption trends"


"Ensure that mining and other land use activities, are carried out in a responsible and sustainable manner that considers the preservation of the environment as well as the well-being of our people"


"Promote sustainable growth and protect the environment; we the people, must collaborate with government, civic society, and all commercial interests in our extraction and use of natural resources"


Mr. Afful charged the gathering to commit to taking action, learning from what has been done over time, and make a difference for the environment, communities, and future.


Taking his turn, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor touted the Akufo-Addo administration for reviving some mines in the country.


"Through the intervention of President Akufo-Addo, the Obuasi Mine was brought back to life in 2019"


"The Bibiani mine which had been dormant for some seven years was also revived last year"


He stressed that these measures have contributed immensely to Ghana's gold output and growth of the national economy.


He noted that gold accounts for more 40% of Ghana's total receipt.


"Today gold alone accounts for more than 40% of our total national receipt but we are not relaxing"


"Mr. President, Hon. Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, while it is the responsibility of Government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to regulate and manage the utilisation of these resources, we understand the important role other stakeholders play in the discharge of this mandate. Hence, this Dialogue"


"It is our hope that, through this timely Dialogue, we can forge a common path to manage sustainably our natural resources, add value to them, retain the highest end of the industry, contribute to the national economy, whilst, at the same time, protecting our environment for our collective good"


Mr. Jinapor noted that under the outstanding leadership of President Akufo-Addo, his Ministry remains fully committed to working with all stakeholders to construct a sustainable and value-added natural resources sector, anchored on transparency, integrity and utmost good faith for the benefit of the Ghanaian people, the true owners of these resources.  


Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith

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