Ghana: GMWU Lauds Move to Mine Bauxite... Cautions Government to Hasten Slowly

The Ghana Mines Workers Union says the creation of the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation by the government to oversee the exploration and mining of bauxite in the Atiwa, Nyinahin and Awaso reserves for the repayment of the syndicated 2 billion dollar loan from the Chinese government will create employment.

"This massive state project, no doubt, could positively impact the Union's membership base with a strategic prioritisation of recruitment and focused engagement with the stakeholders," Prince William Ankrah, General Secretary, Ghana Mineworkers' Union said.

Speaking at the national executive council meeting held at Obuasi last week he said currently, the board of directors of the company has been inaugurated by the President and managerial structures were being put in place for full operations.

"Let me take this opportunity to caution the government that, however laudable the intentions on the project are, they should hasten slowly given the massive civil society and environmentalists opposition to the project," he said.

In this regard, Mr Ankrah said it was critical for the government to amend its weird and selective stakeholder engagement to a holistic approach taking all concerns and interests on board.

Mr Ankrah said another positive development for the industry was the current surge in the prices of gold on the international market.

According to kitco.com, the price of gold averaged between US$1,100/oz and US$1200/oz for almost half a decade until the first quarter of 2018; which made most actors particularly investors quite cautious on investment into the industry.

However, in the first half of 2018, gold prices begun a positive surge on the back of the US-China trade war from an average of US$1331.67/oz in January to over US$1500/oz in August 2019 to the current average of US$1457.02/oz.

"Given this positive development, core activities of the industry i.e. mining, exploration, processing and other related projects are picking up albeit cautiously. This may lead to new jobs being created with the potential of more members being added to our fold," he said.

Challenges

Mr Ankrah saidnotwithstanding the positive developments, there were equally some disturbing happenings in the industry that continue to pose a challenge not only to the union but the entire industry.

"The first one is the unbridled outsourcing of all manner of projects by the mining companies with its twin challenge of non-standard forms of employment (fixed term contract employment) which continue to gain currency in the industry with its attendant consequences on workers and communities.

He said given the cheap nature of outsourced projects particularly those handed to Ghanaians under screwed contract deals all in the name of local content, mining companies are giving all manner of excuses to profiteer through outsourcing and fixed term contract employment to the detriment of workers, communities and the government.

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