The African continent hosts about 30% of global mineral reserves and has huge deposits of mineral resources such as iron ore, gold, diamonds, manganese, bauxite, cobalt and copper etc. Nevertheless, the exploitation of these minerals over the years have not fully translated into national development as expected due to overconcentration on the extraction and exportation of the raw minerals without any value addition.
To this end, the President of Ghana, H.E Nana Akuffo Addo in delivering the keynote address at the Natural Resources Stakeholder Dialogue, held on Thursday, 11th May 2023, in Accra, has disclosed government’s intentions to prioritize value addition in the exploitation and utilization of the country’s mineral resources in order to reap optimal benefits towards sustainable growth and development.
The President stressed on the fact that the real value of natural resources lies in value addition and the not extraction and exportation of the minerals in their raw state. “The value of the global aluminum industry for example, from bauxite mining, through alumina smelting and aluminum production is estimated to be in excess of US$180 billion annually, but raw bauxite accounts for only 7.6% of this market whilst the remaining 92.3% is generated from processed bauxite” he said.
This move to prioritize value addition in the country’s natural resources is already underway with the establishment of the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC) in 2018, which is working on bauxite refining, aluminum production as well as production of other downstream aluminum products through a ‘Four project agenda’ launched in 2021. This will ensure that Ghana retains the highest end of the bauxite mining value chain. Making his intentions clear, the President stated that “the implementation of these four-project agenda is expected to optimize production in the upstream industry and spur production and job creation in the downstream sector. With an estimated bauxite resource base of over 900 million metric tonnes, this sector can serve as an anchor for the country’s industrialization if we continue to pursue value added policies”. Simultaneously, a similar action is being undertaken in iron ore extraction, through the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC), established in 2019.
In the broader scope of value addition, green minerals such as lithium, cobalt nickel, copper, lead, zinc, chromium etc. will not be left out of the policy implementation. The president acknowledged that these are the minerals of the future due to their importance to Green Energy transition. “Our aim is to exploit and utilize these green minerals in a manner that ensures optimal benefit to the people of Ghana. We will do whatever it takes to make this happen” he indicated.
The materialization of these projects and policies will be backed by laws and regulations through the auspices of the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources who is empowered under Section 28 of the law establishing GIADEC (Act 976), and section 30 of the law establishing GIISDEC (Act 988) to make regulations against the exportation of raw bauxite and iron ore after five years of the coming into force of these laws. The President revealed that the Minister is already finalizing a policy document on the exploitation, utilization and management of these minerals for consideration by cabinet in the next few weeks.
In relation to value addition to gold, the President highlighted progress made in the establishment of a gold refinery through a public and private partnership which is expected to add value to locally produced gold and cut down on the export of unprocessed gold.
Speaking at the same program, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor assured Ghanaians that government remains committed to working with all stakeholders to build a sustainable and value-added natural resources sector based on transparency, integrity, and utmost good faith. He cited several measures already taken in this direction, including increase in the number of items on the local procurement list of goods and services reserved for Ghanaians from twenty-nine to fifty, as well as the gradual listing of large-scale mining companies on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE).
As these policy intentions are in the right direction, the onus lies on the government to ensure these policies and plans do not become white elephants but are backed with strong political will and commitment to ensure they are successfully implemented to the optimal benefit of the people of Ghana.