General News of Sunday, 9 March 2014
President John Dramani Mahama yesterday told mining companies operating in Ghana not to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a populist stunt just to gain public applause.
Instead, he asked that guidelines must be established for CSR, so that it took care of the critical needs of communities.
“It should not be populism. In some cases, it is just done to show a certain sense of care but is not deep enough and so we must establish guidelines for corporate social responsibility, so it really takes care of the critical needs and not something that is just done to be printed in brochures,” he said.
The President was delivering the opening remarks at a seminar on: “Responsible mineral development initiative” organised as part of activities for the state visit of the Guinean President, Alpha Conde.
“Today, the philosophy of corporate social responsibility has caught on, and many mining companies realise that you cannot live in isolation from the communities that surround you and so we are seeing developments in which mining companies and other extractive industries are investing in the communities around them.
“Either they are building schools for the communities or building clinics and other facilities for the communities or opening up roads and I think that is an important development and needs to be encouraged,” President Mahama stated.
Explaining a statement he had made earlier at Davos, Switzerland, on windfall taxes, he said what he meant was that mining companies must exist in mutual partnership with Ghana, so the two could assist each other.
The President said Ghana had identified areas of mutual cooperation with Guinea in the energy and extractive sectors and that Guinea had a lot of potential in hydropower and mining which it could tap.
“Africa must exert more control over its natural resources and its resources must benefit the people of the economies that own it. It is a mutual partnership that will allow foreign investors to bring in capital, but it must be a partnership that benefits both the investor and the local communities that own the resources,” he stressed.
When he took his turn to address the seminar, President Conde said although Guinea was blessed with natural resources, it had not gained much from it as a country.
He said it was in view of that; that they resolved in Davos to change all that, saying he had reviewed the mining code of his country to include very important aspects such as transparency which the mining companies were not happy about.
President Conde said, for example, he had insisted that all who mined bauxite should give 50 per cent to the state as dividend.
He also said any mining company seen to be corrupt would have its licence revoked while communities where natural resources were mined had to benefit from them as was happening in Ghana.
President Conde said mining companies had to also employ locals or people from the region where mining was taking place so they could also benefit.
Presentations were made by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) on investment opportunities in Ghana while an overview of Ghana’s mining industry was given by the Minerals Commission.
The Ghana Chamber of Mines also did a presentation on some CSR projects in mining communities, while the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) spoke about efforts at adding value to Ghana’s minerals.