Companies hold discussions with BoG on move to purchase gold

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The outgoing President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Eric Assubonteng has revealed that some member companies of the Chamber have held and continue to hold discussions with the Bank of Ghana (BoG) on commercial and contractual arrangements to be put in place for such sales regarding the central banks plan to purchase gold.

He said one of the members of the Chamber has completed these discussions and has moved into implementation.

Under the Programme, he said, the Bank of Ghana would purchase gold from domestic producers, in the local currency (Ghana Cedis) and count the gross value of its gold holdings as part of its reserves.

Mr Asubonteng said these when speaking at the Chamber 94th Annual General Meeting (AGM) this week.

It is recalled that Vice President Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia earlier announced that in conjunction with the BoG, the government was going to start a deliberate gold purchase programme which will target purchasing gold from the Small Scale Mining sector.

He stated that after series of deliberations, the Bank of Ghana has been persuaded to start this programme which is going to be the first of it’s kind in history, adding that the programme when started, will be a boost for the Small Scale Mining sector as purchases made will build the country’s gold reserves.

He made this known at the maiden edition of the Responsible Small Scale Mining Awards held at Alisa Hotel on Wednesday 22nd December, 2021.

The Vice president described the Mining award ceremony as a historic occasion which he is very proud to be a part of.

He opined that he sees the award to be something peculiar because  “all too often, our problem solving turns to focus more on chasing and punishing wrong doers and not recognising and rewarding those who do right and this is what makes this award different”.

“The award recognises players in small Scale Mining sector who despite the temptation to join the wrong doing bandwagon, have decided to stay within the relevant regulatory framework for the country and to operate responsibly,” he explained.

The Chamber of Mines President Mr Asubonteng said during the 94th AGM that “On the purchase of gold by the Bank of Ghana to shore up the country’s gold reserves, I am glad to say that some member companies of the Chamber have held and continue to hold discussions with the Bank of Ghana on commercial and contractual arrangements to be put in place for such sales.

“Indeed, I know that one of our members has completed these discussions and has moved into implementation. Under the Programme, the Bank of Ghana would purchase gold from domestic producers, in the local currency (Ghana Cedis) and count the gross value of its gold holdings as part of its reserves.”

Below is his full speech …

REMARKS BY OUTGOING PRESIDENT OF THE GHANA CHAMBER OF MINES, MR ERIC ASUBONTENG, ON THE OCASSION OF THE 94TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD AT THE ACCRA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE ON 3RD JUNE 2022

  • Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor
  • Honourable Members of Parliament
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Chief Executives of private and government institutions
  • Captains of the mining industry
  • Industry colleagues
  • Members of the Media
  • Distinguished invited Guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

With pleasure, I add my voice to the warm welcome you have already been given to the 94thAnnual General Meeting of the Ghana Chamber of Mines. My remarks today mark a significant milestone for me, personally. It represents the last time I will be addressing the AGM of the Chamber of Mines as President, a journey which began four years ago in this same room.

As the President of the Chamber, it has indeed been a great honour and privilege serving the mining industry,  and the people of Ghana. It has afforded the Chamber and I the opportunity to contribute to the creation of employment opportunities, sustaining the country’s fiscal revenues and complementing the developmental effort of the government through the initiatives of our member companies in our host communities and beyond.

We have been at the forefront of leveraging the benefits generated from the mining industry to create enduring value for our stakeholders.

My 4-year tenure as the 38th President of this Chamber has provided me with the opportunity to steer my passion and that of my colleagues to bring about positive and instrumental change in the mining sector.

I have had the privilege of working with key stakeholders and development partners in both the private and public sectors. These have included parliamentarians, government officials, regulators, CSOs, and Academia in Ghana and abroad; all of whom mainly share the same desire to provide support to the private sector and promote Ghana as a competitive investment destination, that yields mutual benefits to resource owners and investors alike.

My time as President has been an instructive journey and has afforded me the opportunity to influence “big picture” initiatives in the industry.  The experience and lessons learned are ones that will serve me well, beyond my tenure as the President of the Chamber.

As my tenure comes to an end today, I pass on the baton to the capable hands of Mr. Joshua Mortoti. It does not however end my involvement in the activities of the Chamber.

Honourable Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Members of the Council, the Executive Committee, the CEO of the Chamber, and the staff of the Secretariat for their support. Working with you has been an absolute privilege, providing me with the opportunity to share ideas and also learn from you all. Whilst the mantle passes to Joshua, I commit to be there to support him and the team every step of the way.

I now take the opportunity to highlight some areas of progress we have made together, as a Chamber, in the last few years.

CONSTRUCTIVE POSTURE AS A PARTNER

First, our strategic posture over the last few years has been one that truly positions the Chamber as a partner to government in our common vision of ensuring the sustainable growth of a mining industry that benefits all stakeholders. To this end, we have formed a joint working group with the Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources to constructively and proactively dialogue on government initiatives and other intended changes, as well as finding solutions to the challenges facing the industry.

This general collaborative approach to working with the government, as a key stakeholder, has allowed us to make some progress in the following areas, among others:

  • IN-COUNTRY REFINERY

In relation to in-country refining of gold, we are happy that the Chamber has representation on the broad-based committee set up by government to pursue this objective. It helps ensure that the refineries established in Ghana meet internationally recognized standards and have the right certifications, befitting the status of Ghana as one of the leading gold producers in Africa. It provides a good and constructive forum for the Chamber to continue to support this initiative, whiles ensuring that any risks are adequately addressed in the process, and there are no unintended negative consequences.

  • ROAD CONSTRUCTION INITIATIVE

On the road construction initiative in mining communities, true to our posture as development partners, the Chamber has worked with the Ministry of Finance on a framework that allows our member companies to finance the construction of roads in mining communities. We have since shared a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry and are awaiting feedback to enable us to bring this worthy initiative to fruition.

  • BANK OF GHANA’S GOLD PURCHASING INITIATIVE, TO SHORE UP THE GOLD RESERVES OF GHANA –

On the purchase of gold by the Bank of Ghana to shore up the country’s gold reserves, I am glad to say that some member companies of the Chamber have held and continue to hold discussions with the Bank of Ghana on commercial and contractual arrangements to be put in place for such sales. Indeed, I know that one of our members has completed these discussions and has moved into implementation. Under the Programme, the Bank of Ghana would purchase gold from domestic producers, in the local currency (Ghana Cedis) and count the gross value of its gold holdings as part of its reserves.

  • SECURITY

On security, the Chamber engaged with the Ghana Police Service, and the Ministry of National Security, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to find a solution to the forcible illegal encroachment on the concessions of member companies, and in some cases threatening lives and property. This led to the training and deployment of a special unit of the Ghana Police to some mining sites. It remains an area that requires further focus to ensure the effectiveness of this special unit.

GHANA AS A HUB FOR MINING INPUTS PRODUCTION AND SUPPLY IN WEST AFRICA

Honorable minister, in the last few years, the Chamber has set itself the vision of working with various stakeholders to help position Ghana as the mining support services and inputs hub in West Africa. An idea and initiative that I am very passionate about. This is a vision being driven strongly, as well, by the government of Ghana, through the leadership of our sector minister. We are indeed on the same page and share this common vision. If we are to realize this vision, however, we will have to be very deliberate and strategic in our approach.

I am happy to announce that the Chamber has already selected a respected Ghanaian Firm, led by Mr. Ben Boakye of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) to undertake a study on this. The study will establish how best this vision can be realized, the opportunities it presents, the challenges that confront us, and the practical interventions that need to be rolled out, among others. We have particularly tasked the team of consultants to be practical in their approach and recommendations. We don’t want this to end up being another study that is so “theoretical” in nature that it ends up gathering dust on the shelves, as we have seen in so many other instances. We expect this study to be completed by Q4 of this year.

LOCAL CONTENT

Ladies and gentlemen, the Ghana Chamber of Mines holds the view that the most sustainable way of contributing to the economy of Ghana is to increase the linkages between the mining industry and other sectors of the economy. The industry has demonstrated its commitment to local content, by helping to grow Ghanaian companies, including, in particular, Ghanaian owned contract mining companies, even ahead of the introduction of new local content regulations. If we are to make good and lasting progress, however, it will require a well-coordinated inter-ministerial or multi-sectorial approach. For example, we can wish for and regulate for the inclusion of more Ghanaian companies in the value chain of the industry, but it will not amount to much if these companies cannot access finance at a reasonable cost to fund the investments that are critical for such ventures. On the part of the Chamber, we have engaged the services of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) to undertake a study on the linkages between the minerals and non-mining sector. The objective of the study by UMaT, is to inform policy formulation on ways to maximize the potential of the mining sector’s supply chain for national development.

TERTIARY EDUCATION FUND FOR UMAT

Of course, local content also means having a steady pipeline of skilled local talent to meet the human capital needs of the industry. In October 2019 the Chamber set up the Tertiary Education Fund (TEF), with the primary objective of  keeping Ghana’s mining industry on an upward trajectory with a regular stream of highly qualified and technically astute professionals. The Fund, which is being administered in phases, has member companies of the Chamber contributing USD442,500 annually for five years to support tertiary education, giving initial priority to the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT).

TRANPARENCY IN OUR ACCOUNTING FOR GOLD PRODUCED AND EXPORTED (PMMC AUDITS)

Ladies and gentlemen, in our quest to show transparency in the operations of our member companies, The Chamber welcomed government’s initiative of having the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) assay the gold doré produced by our member companies. The outcome of this process has helped promote transparency and deepen government, and hopefully, the public’s confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the amount of gold produced, and revenue generated thereof, by the producing member companies of the Chamber.                                                                       I can confidently say that the erroneous view that producing members of the Chamber were under declaring gold production can been put to bed once and for all.

Distinguished invited guests, when it has mattered most, and in times of crisis, the Chamber has walked the talk. Two of such instances were during the COVID crisis, and the Apiatse explosion.

COVID

At the height of the COVID pandemic, the Ghana Chamber of Mines supported governments effort with $3.2 million worth of PPES, ventilators and medical supplies to mitigate the scourge of the pandemic.

APIATSE

Again, in the aftermath of the Apiatse disaster, member companies of the Chamber contributed over $4 Million dollars (equivalent to GHS 26 million, then) to the Apiatse Support Fund, towards the reconstruction of the Apiatse community. This is in addition to the first responder and humanitarian relief support provided by our member companies in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Ladies and gentlemen, whiles we have had a lot going for us in recent years, as a mining jurisdiction, it is not all rosy. It is important that we are not complacent. There are challenges and constraints that we need to address with urgency, to ensure we don’t lose grounds to neighboring mining jurisdictions in West Africa, and to maintain our position as one of the leading mining investment destinations in Africa. For example, we have fallen behind in attracting exploration investment, as compared to our neighbors in West Africa. As we all know, the success of exploration activities today, is what will determine the growth of the industry in 10 years, 20 years, etc., down the line.

The mining business is capital intensive. The payback period for mining projects can be as high as 10 years, and more in some cases. Making such long-term investment decisions requires investors (local or foreign) to make fundamental fiscal and regulatory assumptions. As such, it’s important that we have consistency and predictability in the fiscal and regulatory space. This will help maintain  investor confidence in the jurisdiction, as well as avoid unintended negative consequences.

Conclusion

Honourable Minister, Members of our Chamber, the last four years as President of the Council has been very fulfilling. I once again thank you all for your support. Especially, the staff of the Secretariat and the CEO for the great job they do, as always. I am particularly grateful to our sector minister, Honourable Samuel Abu Jinapor and the team at the ministry, the Executive Director of EPA, Hon. Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu  and his team at the EPA, the CEO of the Minerals Commission, Mr. Martin Ayisi, the Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr. Kofi Adjei and the team at the Minerals Commission,  for their support and collaboration during my Presidency. I urge you to give same or even more support to the new President of the Chamber to enable the Chamber to continue to be the true development partner that it is.

Now it is my pleasure and honour to hand over to Mr. Joshua Mortoti as the new President of our distinguished Chamber. Mr. Mortoti will be assisted by Mr. George Nutor as First Vice President and Ms. Angela List as Second Vice President.

Thank you.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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