During the turn of 19th century Gold was the only mineral mined and exported from Gold Coast (Ghana). Thomas Hughes, a wealthy Fante entrepreneur, advisor to the Cape Coast and the British Colonial authorities at Gold Coast, was the first man to order modern heavy machinery to start mining at Wassa areas. In no time, Hughes struck a rich vein of gold in 1861.
The chief of Wassa and his elders immediately ordered him to cease operation and had his machinery destroyed.
Then in 1877, French trader Bonnat, formed the African Gold Coast Company and started mining in Tarkwa areas. By 1882 as many as six companies were operating in Wassa area.
The notable Gold Coast intellectuals and businessmen involved in this mining operations were Francis Chapman Grant, J.K Amissah, John Mensah Sarbah, James Hutton Brew, George Emissang, and Jacob Wilson Sey. These guys formed the Gold Coast Native Concession Purchasing Company.
Indeed, as Ayowa Afrifa rightly averred in her 2006 PhD thesis "An Economic History of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, 1895-2003: Land, Labour, Capital and Enterprise", it was three Fante entrepreneurs Joseph Etrue Ellis of Saltpond, J E Biney of Saltpond and J P Brown who first started gold mining in the Obuasi area in 1890.
Unfortunately, they sold their interests to shrewd British businessman, E A Cade, who formed Ashanti Goldfield Corporation in 1897 to operate what soon turned out to be one of the richest gold mines in the world, Anglogold Ashanti. Unfortunately, royalties paid to the state/chiefs which was 3% in 1897 has remained so up till now (2016).
Kweku Darko Ankrah