The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, has directed the management of Ghana Manganese Company (GMC) located at Tarkwa in the Western Region to halt its mining operations.
The directive, according to a letter signed by the minister and dated January 31, this year, was to pave the way for a thorough and uninterrupted technical and financial audit of the mining entity.
According to the letter, a copy of which the Daily Graphic had seen, preliminary assessments of some documents on the operations of the company raised some concern; hence, the need for a detailed audit to ascertain the facts.
"A preliminary assessment of your report, documents and information available to the government on your operations has left us with no option than to ask you to immediately cease operations in your mining area.
"The cessation of your operations will among other things, ensure that the technical and financial audit are undertaken without any challenges. You are, therefore, required to stop mining operations by February 1, 2019," the letter to the management of the company added.
When the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the ministry, Mr Abraham Otabil, was contacted last Saturday on the issue, he confirmed the story.
He explained that the company had not been forthcoming with information that would give a clear picture of its profitability to the state.
"In 2018, for instance, Chinese imports of manganese from the GMC amounted to some 3.47 million tonnes, which was a 106 per cent improvement over the 2017 figure; meanwhile the government is not getting the right figures and results from the company
"They are not cooperating with the technical and financial audit that will help us to get a clear picture of the situation but we cannot allow the country to be shortchanged, which is why there is the need for a thorough audit to be done," the officer stated.
Mr Otabil added: "We are auditing all large-scale mining companies to make sure that there is transparency in their operations. Some have cooperated very well and we expect others to do the same."
According to him, when the ministry was done with the audit exercise, it would determine the next line of action on the company, including a decision on when it would start operations again.
In July 2018, the then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John-Peter Amewu, indicated that the government was not going to renew the mining lease licence of GMC because the company was "flouting its mining agreement."
It had emerged that the company had failed to involve the government in the pricing of manganese ore that was being sold to a firm in China for processing.
Mr Amewu opined that the action by the GMC had the potential of depriving the country of millions of dollars in taxes and royalties.
He, therefore, instructed the management of the company to provide the Minerals Commission with full details on the pricing of ore and other minerals by the GMC.