Dr. Toni Aubynn, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, has stated that bad leadership and poor governance are the major reasons for Ghana’s underdevelopment, as well as the suffering of the citizenry in the midst abundant natural and human resources. Ghanaians are not benefiting from the mining of gold and oil because of the lack of proper policies and political will, as well as the non-enforcement of the laws, according to him.
Speaking at a public lecture to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Ghana Chamber Mines in Kumasi, Dr Aubynn also said that “perhaps our leaders and the people are cursed for abusing their riches. “Maybe we should check ourselves. God gave us these resources and expect us to use them sensibly. I don’t think God gave us gold for us to sit and be poor,” he asserted. The public lecture, which was held under the theme, ‘A Responsible and Sustainable Mining Industry; A Partner for National Development,’ was chaired by Prof Daniel Mireku-Gyimah, foundation Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT).
Dr Aubynn revealed that even though Ghana is endowed with over 28 ferrous and precious minerals, including platinum and uranium, only four of them – gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese – have been mined commercially over the years. Out of the four, data from the Chamber of Mines suggest that 95 percent of the value comes from gold, he indicated.
According to Dr Aubynn, there are disproportionate figures in the production of gold by the two countries, thereby making their comparison inappropriate. “This is not to suggest that Obuasi or Tarkwa, which discovered gold in the same year with Johannesburg, could not have also become Johannesburg in its small way,” he noted. The challenges in the gold industry have to do with policy, political interference, lack of capacity of regulators and the lack of technology to regulate and control small-scale mining, he added.
On his part, Prof. E. Gyimah Boadi, the Executive Director of the Afrobarometer presented a case study of the contribution of mining to the New Abirem community, which hosts Newmont Golden Ridge Ltd, Akyem Mine. He stated that due mainly to the efficiency of the Foundation set up by the company to undertake community development initiatives, the District Assembly tends to look up to the mining company and NAkDeF to address vital social issues within the catchment area.
He indicated that the situation is worsened by: “…the paucity of resources coming from the District Assembly Common Fund, delays in its disbursement allocations and their own weak capacity to devise creative avenues for the credible internal fund generation… At any rate, it is telling that, to date, NAkDeF has not been consulted about what the Birim North District plans to do to take advantage of the government’s 1 District, 1 Factory programme.”