On Tuesday 3rd February, representatives from Friends of the Nation (FoN) attended the Ghana Mining for Development Alumni Day in Accra organised by the International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC). The theme of the day was ‘Collaboration for change: mineral resources for shared prosperity’. The Forum brought together over 80 Ghanaians that have participated in mining related capacity building programs funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and administered by IM4DC, Australia Awards and the Australia-Africa Partnership Facility (AAPF).
FoN’s Extractive Industries Program Officer, Solomon Kusi Ampofo, participated in an IM4DC course in July 2014 entitled ‘Community Aspects of Resources Development’. During his month-long stay in Australia, Mr. Ampofo learnt about complex corporate community relations issues in Australia and other countries and developed his knowledge and skills to identify, analyse and formulate appropriate responses to these issues in Ghana.
The keynote speech delivered by the Honourable Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources emphasised the importance of all stakeholders, including communities and civil society, being actively involved and collaborating in the management of mineral resources. He also talked about the need for adequate funding to be allocated at the local level in order to deliver on development objectives, as well as the monitoring, auditing and reporting of these allocations. This aligns with the activities of FoN, which has conducted research to assess the extent to which to transparency, accountability and equity exists in the use mineral royalties in selected extractive host communities.
In fact, the Forum provided ample opportunities for FoN staff to share experiences and brainstorm opportunities for future advocacy and research in mining. For example, participants broke into interest groups, and FoN enthusiastically offered ideas in the group focused on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). This group identified some key changes in the ASM industry over the last three years, including:
- Massive retrenchment in the large-scale mining sector and upsurge in illegal ASM activities due to the slump in gold prices.
- An increase in the use of technologies in small-scale mining and processing, for example, the use of excavators and cyanide.
- Government’s commitment to address the issues in the sector expressed by the set-up of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce to combat illegal ASM activities and amendment of the Minerals and Mining Act to permit confiscation of equipment used in illegal ASM operations.
As part of the brainstorming session, FoN committed to continue its research and advocacy to support increased training and capacity building for small-scale miners to use more environmentally friendly technologies. They also committed to working together with Government, the private sector and higher education institutions to develop solutions aimed at countering the negative impacts associated with ASM and building on its positive socio-economic development impacts.