The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio, says government is set to make Goldfields’ Damang mines development arrangement a model for more mining companies to allow them to invest in mining-enclave road infrastructure.
The Deputy Minister who was speaking to Citi News during the commissioning of a 33-kilometre reconstructed Tarkwa to Damang road by Goldfields Damang Mines said such pre-financed projects are being discussed with other mines to fix the Tarkwa enclave roads and the cost would be captured as part of their production cost before profit.
At a time where deplorable mining enclave roads especially those in Tarkwa have attracted demonstrations from residents who feel they deserve better roads because of minerals exploited from their catchment, Goldfields Damang mines is doing something different.
Through a development arrangement with government, Goldfields has pre-financed the reconstruction and asphalting of a 33-kilometre road from Tarkwa to Damang.
Speaking at the commissioning of the 27-million-dollar road, the West Africa Head of Goldfields, Alfred Baku said the project among others is meant to improve the economy of the area as well as other projects.
“The project, which costs over $27 million US dollars (GHs145 million), was undertaken under the Gold Fields’ shared-value initiative, aimed at promoting the socio-economic development of our host communities. I am happy to announce that this road will last for the next 20 years and even beyond. It is also worth mentioning that the four contractors who built this beautiful road are local construction companies selected by the Ghana Highway Authority.”
“We are upgrading the Tarkwa and Abosso Park, popularly known as T&A Park, into a modern stadium. We are also working on upgrading the Apinto Government Hospital, which is the first government hospital in the country. This facility will have a new medical hub with fully equipped emergency centre, operating theatre and an intensive care unit. We are investing close to 100 million Ghana Cedis in these two legacy projects. We also intend to rehabilitate the inner roads of Huni-Valley and Damang, ” he said.
Mr. Baka however urged government to increase royalties that go back to mining communities.
“As a mine, we recognize the huge task ahead in developing this country and the fact that government alone cannot shoulder this responsibility. It is also a fact that mining companies alone cannot meet all developmental needs of host communities. Even though we try our best to meet the expectations of communities hosting our operations, our stakeholders must also recognize that shareholders who invested money in the operations, including the government which has free-carried interest, expect dividend payments. We urge the government to return an adequate proportion of the mineral royalty to the mining communities to augment our efforts. ”
The Group CEO of Goldfield, Nick Holland, highlighting Goldfields’ Corporate Social Responsibility in Ghana said the 27 million Dollar road investment project is the largest-ever community investment project Goldfields has undertaken anywhere in the world expected to have widespread impact.
“Since the establishment of the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation in 2004, we have invested over US$87 million in community projects and programmes, particularly in the areas of health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation. Our focus is not only on providing physical infrastructure, we are also committed to developing the human capital among our workforce and our host communities. These two go hand-in-hand and we are proud to say that almost 75% of our workforce hails from the communities around us here.”
“Employing members from our host communities is one of the best ways of creating economic benefits for the towns and villages that are adjacent to our mines. The US$27 million investment in this road makes this by far our largest-ever community investment project anywhere in the world. But we also believe it is one that will have the greatest impact – our baseline study on the project in 2017 estimated that 40,000 community members could be positively impacted,” he said.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio, just like various chiefs and residents who graced the occasion was full of praise to Goldfields for the project.
He told Citi News the Ministry is making it a model for other mines.
“I believe that by alignment of their CSR projects with appropriate local infrastructure needs, mining companies can contribute positively and significantly to the sustainable development of their host communities. By this road therefore, Gold Fields has contributed to a legacy project for the betterment of the citizenry in its area of operation. Therefore, while I say well done to Gold Fields, I wish to reiterate my encouragement to other mining companies to do same, if not more.”
“We are trying to mirror what has been done in terms of this arrangement that the government had with Goldfields on the development of this infrastructure. We want to use that same arrangement on the Tarkwa road and so far we have called in the stakeholders and the discussions are ongoing. Ghana Bauxite and other mines are all on board. One thing we need to make clear for all Ghanaians to understand is that, when we say Goldfields has actually pumped in 27 million dollars to fix this road, yes it is an upfront money coming from Goldfields but at the end of the day it is Ghana money because they are going to add to their cost which was part of the development arrangement reached with government,” the Deputy Minister said.
Traditional leaders, the MP for Prestea-Huni-Valley, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the MP for Tarkwa-Nsueam, George Mireku Duka as well as the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah who graced the commissioning of the all-important road commended Goldfields for such a crucial infrastructure.
While reminding Goldfields to commit to other promised projects, they urged other mines in the area to emulate what Goldfields is doing to support the development of the area.