The Minister for Business Development, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal has appealed to mining companies in the country to help fund a GH¢50-million Mining Entrepreneurship Fund to help train and build the skills of the youth.
The Fund, he said, would be also be used to support youth entrepreneurs to enable them to create their own businesses, and not rely on the government for jobs.
Dr Awal made the appeal during the 5th Ghana Mining Industry Award of the Ghana Chamber of Mines (GCM), in Accra at the weekend under the theme "Honouring Commitment to Excellence in Ghana's Mining Industry."
The best mining company of the year went to Asanko Gold Ghana Limited which also won the best performer in exploration, and the best performer in Corporate Social Invest went to AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine, while Newmont Golden Ridge, which won the best community brigade, shared the honours of best performer in environment with Persus Mining Company.
He said the country's growing youthful population had created the need for more jobs to be created to absorb them.
Dr Awal said the country's demographic devidend presented a huge opportunity for the country, and therefore skills and knowledge of the youth to be harnessed to accelerate national development.
According to him, if each of the mining companies contributed GH¢5 million, government would be able to raise a lot of funds to build the skills and capacity of the youth.
Dr Awal said the mining industry remained a priority to government and would be one of the critical sectors to drive the growth of the economy.
The mining sector, the Minister said had played a crucial role in the country's current positive economic growth.
The Minister pledged that government would create an enabling microeconomic environment to help boost the growth of the mining sector.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy Benito Owusu-Bio, said the mining industry was one of the key drivers of the economy, contributing to GDP, government tax revenue, export earnings and employment generation.
, He said Ghana was projected to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world next year, saying "this growth is expected to be based largely on the extractives sector."
"The government is not relenting on its agenda to use mining as a catalyst for the industrial transformation of the country with key policies focused on resource-based industrialisation, value addition and local content," he said.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh intended to integrate the mining industry with the rest of the local economy, to make it possible for Ghanaian entrepreneurs to increase their participation in the mining industry.
"Government is keen to promote community participation in the utilisation of benefits derive from mining and the plough back of same into the communities," the Minister said.
He commended the Chamber for the awards programme to reward and recognise excellence in the mining sector and also lauded the mining companies for their invaluable contribution to national development.
The President of GCM, Eric Asubonteng said the rationale for the award was to recognise members for their commitment to excellence.
He said Ghana last year overtook South Africa as the leading producer of gold in the world, and bulk of the production came from the artisanal sector.
Mr Asubonteng said the government lost half of the proceeds because the bulk came from the artisanal sector, and therefore entreated the government to formalise the operations of the sector.
He also appealed to the government to implement the Multi-Lateral Mining Project.
The Chief Executive Officer of the GCM, Sulemanu Koney in his address encouraged Ghanaian entrepreneurs to take advantage of the numerous opportunities inherent in the mining sector.
He entreated the government to address the challenges facing the industry to make the sector thrive.