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Business News of Saturday, 23 May 2015

Source: B&FT

Miners predict exciting year

…as firms expand production activities

Mr. Sulemanu Koney, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, has predicted an exciting production year for the country’s mining industry next year, as there are increased exploration expansion activities expected to result in rising annual mineral output and value of mineral exports.

This, he said, confirms the mining industry as a growth pole in the country’s economy.

Statistical data on the industry provided by the Minerals Commission give credence to the position that there have often been increased foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the sector, rising annual mineral output and value of mineral exports, increased exploration activities with a rise in the number of operating mines, as compelling evidence to support the sector’s contribution to the national economy.

Mr. Koney in an interview with the B&FT in Accra confirmed: "There are a lot of underground mining expansion projects coming up in the first quarter next year, and this will result in increasing mineral output”.

B&FT has gathered that seven of the 13 multinational mining firms in the country have submitted proposals and documentation seeking licence to commence underground operations in the next couple of years.

The Golden Star Resource Limited has estimated the development of its underground mine at the Wassa project to produce an average of 163,000 ounces of gold per annum over its production life, with average cash operating costs of US$780 per ounce.

First production from Wassa underground is expected in early 2016 and estimated to continue into 2024.

Newmont Gold Ghana Limited (NGGL) also plans to begin in August 2015 an expansion programme of the mining and processing of its Ahafo Mine project in the Brong Ahafo Region, from the current annual production volume of between 300-330,000 ounces to about 400-500,000 ounces.

The expansion has the potential to increase mill capacity from 7.5 to 12 million tonnes per annum, and will increase gold production at a lower cost; extending the lifespan of the Ahafo Mine to 2028

Speaking at a sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of a US$17million new ultra-modern head office of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr. Koney said the project is long overdue for the Chamber to have its office complex after existing for 87 years.

The seven-story office complex, to be christened “The Mine Head”, will be located at South Legon in Accra, and when completed will serve as the permanent address for the Ghana Chamber of Mines as well as other mining companies in the country.

He said after scouting and interacting with prospective partners, the Chamber settled on Harvey Properties as a partner in a Build, Operate and Transfer arrangement.

“We are confident that we can work with Harvey Properties to deliver a project that is as green as envisaged and which bears testimony to the industry’s responsibility toward the environment,” he said.

He said the project will be completed in approximately 24 months and urged mining companies, suppliers and contractors to structure their existing tenancy arrangements to allow them take occupancy at the Mine Head.

Mr. Koney said the opportunity to do business at the 'Mine Head' will not be limited to mainstream mining companies and their suppliers, but also financial institutions, insurance companies, and travel and tour operators who can position themselves well will find a captive market at the new place.

He commended all who took part in ensuring that the project came to fruition, especially the former CEO of the Chamber, Joyce Aryee, who managed to secure land for the project.

Mr. Yaw Benneh-Amponsah, Director, Harvey Properties, said the seven-storey Mine Head will have an unmatched combination of style, convenience and functionality befitting the mining industry’s global outlook.

He said some of its development features will be offices, retail space to accommodate banking halls, a pharmacy and mart among others; and accommodation, conferencing facilities, and a restaurant/food court including Internet protocol based voice and data connectivity on high capacity fibre optic infrastructure.

He said green technology will be employed and 100 kilowatts of solar power generated, as well as a bio-gas to manage waste.

“There will be a centralised security and closed-circuit television and secure parking for 152 cars,” he added.

Mr. Benneh-Amponsah said in terms of pricing the Mine Head offers great value compared to other alternatives, and advised interested companies and organisations to book their space in good time.