ECOWAS mining ministers confer in Accra over new sub-regional mining policy

12:11, June 04, 2011      

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The ministers in charge of mineral resources development in the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) converged in Accra on Friday to deliberate on the draft sub-regional mining development policy.

The meeting which was the third of its kind attended by the ministers and their directors in charge of mineral resources and lands was to make recommendations for the adoption of the draft ECOWAS Mineral Development Policy (EMDP).

The draft policy was expected to address issues such as optimizing the value chain through the processing and value addition to minerals for maximum benefit, regulation and development of artisanal and small-scale mining, improvement and harmonization of institutional, legislative and regulatory frameworks both at the national and regional levels, and improvements of geological and mineral information among others.

It was also to promote sustainable and integrated development of local communities as well as mainstream mineral operators' corporate social responsibilities into local development.

Opening the One-Day conference, Ghana's Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Henry Ford Kamel, called for maximum attention of governments to the mining sector since it constituted an important part of the economies of the sub-region.

"We need to pay special attention to the mining industry which has the potential to catalyze the development of other sectors of our economies," Kamel urged.

He observed that the sector was the highest foreign exchange earner for Ghana between 1999 and 2004 and provided high quality employment, contributed 10 percent of the country's total corporate tax earnings as well as 49 percent of total exports.

He also called on the sub-regional authorities to create synergies through partnerships and promote private sector-led investment in the efficient development and utilization of "our mineral resources."

He expressed the hope that the thematic focus of the policy would help address the challenges facing the minerals sector in the various countries in the sub-region, and help achieve the stated objectives.

The mining industry accounted for six percent of the country's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010.

The 62nd session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in 2009, adopted a regulation which required the ECOWAS Commission to set up a West African Mining Forum as a framework for periodic meetings and exchanges among stakeholders to develop guiding principles and policies in the mining sector.

Source: Xinhua

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