|By John Mills
Expatriate mining firms in Ghana are reportedly taking 72% of their mining benefits out of Ghana, leaving mining communities in abject poverty.
The Chief of Bogobiri, Rev. Dr. Nana Owusu Akyaw Brempong, disclosed this when speaking on the role of Chiefs in promoting transparency in the utilization of mineral revenue� at a workshop organized in Obuasi, dubbed: �Yen sika, yen daakye.�
According to him, the development is worrisome, since most of the mining communities are undeveloped.
The workshop, which is aimed at looking at how transparent and responsible the mining companies and District Assemblies are, on the use of royalties paid by mining companies, was jointly put together by Shaft FM, Star Ghana and Centre for social Impact Studies (CeSIS).
Nana Brempong, who used Obuasi as a notable mining town, for example, said development in the golden city was nothing to write home about.
According to the concerned Chief, mining companies are raking in billions of dollars from the enclaves of Obuasi and other mining towns, yet people of Obuasi and their sister mining communities have no good roads, the polluted environment, inadequate drinking water and other serious issues which do not bother those at the helm of affairs.
He stated that the mining companies have taken a lion share of the whole profit and give peanuts of five percent royalties to the poor communities.
�The whites have been mining on our lands, especially Obuasi, for over 100 years now and what have we the people of Obuasi gained,� the Bogobiri Chief asked, adding �San Francisco and Johannesburg ,which are mining towns are better, compared to mining towns in Ghana, which is an eyesore and lag behind.�
He added: �We are tired of these peanut royalties.� He lauded the event organisers, Shaft FM, Star Ghana and Centre for social Impact Studies (CeSIS) for organizing such a programme to lead a crusade against the growing despondency in mining communities in Ghana.
Nana Owusu Akyaw said though the royalties are minimal, it could be utilized for development.
Nana Dr. Owusu Akyaw Brempong stated that things have changed and royalties paid to Chiefs is for the whole catchment area of the paying mining firm. Mr. Richard Ellimah, a representative of CeSIS, reiterated the mantra that after 100 years of mining in Obuasi, there is nothing to show for it.
A disappointed Mr. Ellimah expected Obuasi to be like San Francisco, which was also built with mining revenue. �In the worst case, Obuasi should be looking like Johannesburg in South Africa, because the two mining towns started at the same time.
�Any attempt to compare the two will not yield any result, since there will be nothing of substance to compare with�, he added. Mr. Ellimah stated that at the heart of the workshop is the benefit of mining and the real question is how much Ghana benefits from activities of mining.
He revealed that from the onset of mechanical mining in Ghana, expatriates have sent billions of dollars out from Ghana and what has been retained to Ghanaians is nothing to write home about. He added: �In 2005, the United Nations Conference on Development and Trade, in its annual reports, estimated that only a paltry five percent of mining revenues are returned to Ghana.
While Ghana generated $870 dollars from the export of the minerals in 2003, only 46.7 million dollars, representing five percent, was returned to the West African country. He explained that over the years, the revenue percent returned to Ghana has increased, with the Bank of Ghana estimating that mining outfits repatriated 72.15 percent of their earnings out of Ghana in 2012.
�At the local level, District Assembly and traditional authorities also earned some revenue from ground rent and mineral royalty,� he stated.
He commended the Akrokeri Traditional Council for using a substantial portion of royalties from AGA to offer scholarships for people in the seven divisional Councils and the construction of Asare Bediako Senior High School .