When gold trading entity Menzbanc Ghana Limited set shop in the country, they sought to announce their presence by undertaking publicity work.
Citi FM was one radio station they effectively used. Among other things the Menzbanc advert stated “you are in the land of gold, you should own a piece of gold.” It is here that Ghana’s gold shame was exposed.
Menzbanc Ghana Limited is an affiliate of Swiss Gold Global in Zurich, Switzerland and Ghana’s first Bullion Bank. The company undertakes dealership in gold, diamonds and other precious stones and metals.
It handles gold bullion investments, sale as well as purchase of precious stones and metals, smelting and assaying, bullion depository vault services, jewellery pawn and mining prefinancing.
Menzbanc Ghana Limited reckoned there was still some gold in the Ghanaian soil so set shop here meaning despite the over 150 years of gold mining by foreign interest, the gold gift the Supreme Divine offered us has not been exhausted just yet but the question I ask is:
Have you seen gold up-close as a Ghanaian?
Have you adorned your body with any gold ornament?
Can you buy your mum, dad, lover or sibling a gold piece?
For most the answer is no. Very sad as you would expect a fisherman’s children to not lack fish. A cobbler’s child not to walk barefoot or a Kenkey seller’s child to go unfed but such is our gold shame.
Reports suggests since 1898 the mining royalties paid to both the stool lands and the state is 3% and as at October 2015 still receive 3%.
Researcher Kweku Darko reports that a chief from one of the Wassa mining communities asked why the 3% royalty had not been raised higher to reflect modern exigencies. He was told by Chairman of the Board of Directors of Anglo gold Ashanti Company Limited, Mr. Sipho Pityana and Mr. Atta Kuma the AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) CEO at the 5th annual AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) Lectures on Business in Africa at the institute of African Studies that the 1898 figure of 3% was enough and must be maintained because the company has initiated a lot of programmes and projects that has benefited the communities in its catchment areas and the country at large.
If this is not damning, I know not what can be. Is it any surprise to any patriotic Ghanaian that after laying off hundreds in a so-called downsizing exercise at Obuasi and other towns, jobless youth are now making incursions in gold concessions to stake a claim?
Is it surprising then that at a recent ‘putting the fear of God’ into the indigenes to leave concessions, a media officer of the gold company lost his life?
Does it not smack of reckless greed when this gold company takes the Ghanaian government to a European court with claims the government failed to bar or should I say brutalise its nationals very much like South Africa’s Markana mine massacre hence a demand for compensation from the Ghana government?
If Ghanaians were privy to lives lost and indigenous economic means destroyed as well as agricultural lands lost to these giant multinational mining companies like South Africa-based AngloGold Ashanti, agitations by the populace for greater care to the communities, employees and legally sanctioned land regeneration efforts would be the norm and not the exception.
The almost 300 radio stations dotted around the country plus a buoyant civil society together with the government must be up to their duties to shine light and work to have culprits cease human rights violations in the mining sector.
Human rights violations perpetrated by multinational mining companies cannot continue go unhindered. The political and financial influence of mining companies must be contained as well.
WACAM - Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining deserves commendation for exposing the misdeeds by multinational mining companies against indigenes and for campaigning for AngloGold Ashanti to win the 2011 Public Eye Award reserved for the world’s most irresponsible companies and in AngloGold Ashanti’s case for its poor human rights record.
As of 2011 Ghana had 13 large-scale mining companies producing gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese, as well as over 300 registered small scale mining groups and 90 mine support service companies indicating a fury of activities in that sector yet the funds continue to be flown out.
Why governments have failed to raise the mining royalty to even 40% beats the mind and why the appalling royalty the state gets from mining companies has not become a campaign issue in our recent elections is more confounding.
There is no question in mind that whichever government pushes for increased royalty payment shall be warned by the U.S, U.K governments to desist and in the case that a leader emerged who truly stood his ground, the powers that be would place embargoes and attempt a regime change to continue to rape us but that new leader in the shape of Nkrumah or even Kutu Acheampong is badly needed.
The current crop of leaders be it Nana Addo, Mahama, Ndoum, Nasigri or Ayarigi have shown they lack the foresight and the courage as well as the steely nerves to undertake such noble tasks so it’s the usual campaign gimmick that citizens shall be fed.
I heard a minister or government official alluding to there being about a 5% threshold where the mines pay that percentage in the event of a windfall. It goes to show how stagnate we are.
Although the activities of unregistered small scale miners hugs the headline, the large scale mining companies who get license to operate underground pits also engage in shallow mining disturbingly but there is no doubt the activities of shallow miners or ‘galamseyers’ needs to be curbed now now.
The mercury used in finding gold particles in rivers accumulates in the fish stock and when consumed causes mercury poisoning in humans resulting in nervous system disorders, birth defects death even.
The pollution of the water bodies is rife and has already affected water supply in the Kibi areas as the Ghana Water Company struggles to treat the polluted water at high cost.
Birim, the Pra River and its tributaries flowing through about 40 Districts in 4 Regions is on its last leg as it cannot support aquatic life thanks to Alluvial gold mining which poses grave worry about safety of drinking water.