The mining sector has maintained its position as the highest gross foreign exchanger earner and contributed to the reduction in the unemployment rate in the country.
Currently, the sector employs a total of 1,028,000 people who work in different fields.
Mike Allen Hammah, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who revealed that the sector was contributing to the development of the economy in diverse ways, gave a breakdown on the number of people employed in the sector.
He said out of the number, 28,000 people are employed in the large scale and mine support services industry while more than 1,000,000 people are engaged in small-scale mining of gold, diamonds, sand, as well as quarry industry.
Minerals mined in the country on large scale basis include gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese while there are occasional discoveries of industrial minerals such as limestone, clay, silica sand, kaolin, among others, which are being exploited on a small and often artisanal scale.
The minister mentioned that a total of 11 companies are operating in the large scale sub-sector with over 600 others registered as small-scale mining groups who are engaged in the mining of gold, diamonds and industrial minerals.
However, local mining companies, according to the minister, lack the capital and technical expertise to conduct the full range of modern exploration work, adding, “They are usually unable to finance exploration beyond the reconnaissance stage.”
To overcome this challenge, he observed that the local operators seek foreign partners to help them with the exploration work.
“As a result, a number of concessions held by the local companies and some foreign junior companies are possible joint-venture opportunities for other international companies.”
In spite of all these challenges, Ghana’s mining sector, he said, presently contributes 49 per cent of total merchandise exports and seven percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In 2011 export revenues from the minerals sector amounted to over $5 billion while it attracts more than $2 billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in mineral exploration and mine development, representing over 56 per cent of total FDI inflows.
The sector also contributes about 17.5 per cent of the country’s total corporate tax earning and 28.3 per cent of government’s revenue.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey