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Business News of Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Source: GNA

Timber harvesting in Volta Lake moves into commercial phase

Accra, March 1, GNA - Timber harvesting in the Volta Lake moves into the next phase with the delivery of underwater logging equipment for the start of operations.

The SHARC harvester, which works in shallow waters, and the barge on which it will be mounted as well as other equipment are all in position whe= n the Ghana News Agency visited the site at Akosombo on Tuesday. "The pace at which we are moving now, the installation works should finish in about a week and half to enable us move the barge onto the river for the actual testing of the equipment," Mr Tom Avery, Manager Forest Management Group of Clark Sustainable Resource Developments said. "At this stage we are optimistic and do not envisage any problems,"= he added.

Clarke Sustainable Resources Developments (CRSD) and Triton Logging are implementing the commercial phase of the Volta Lake Timber Project. As part of the project, CSR Development has acquired a site at Sedorm, a village along the Volta Lake and about seven kilometres from Akosombo, to build a wood milling and processing factory to serve as a direct source of employment for the people in the locality.

Mr Peter Milne, Research and Development Manager, CSRD, said the barge together with the SHARC would weigh 400,000 pounds and every caution had been taken to prevent any fluid leakages and when they did it would be contained within the barge.

Besides, he said, because the company wanted to operate in an environmental friendly manner, it would use a biodegradable oil to ensure safety of the lake.

The Volta Lake was created with the construction of the Akosombo Dam in 1964, resulting in the submergence of tracts of forest, and the relocation of some 80,000 people to 52 newly created townships on the Lake's higher banks.

It is estimated that timber resources worth 2.8 billion dollars are locked up under the Lake.

In February 2006, the Volta River Authority and Government of Ghana signed an agreement for phase one on harvesting, processing and marketing o= f timber from the Volta Lake with CSRD.

It comprised a Preparatory Phase (Phase One) and a Commercial Phase (Phase Two), and allows CSRD to develop and launch privately financed timbe= r salvage and processing operation on the Volta Lake. Highlights of the agreement include the underwater stock survey and inventory of commercial tree species in Volta Lake, a comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment studies before commercial operations commence. It is estimated that about 100 million dollars worth of investment will be brought into Ghana in addition to payment of corporate taxes to government.

The project will ensure environmentally certified timber products from Ghana to the global market, establish Ghana as a world leader in underwater timber harvesting and develop technologically advanced processing and other value-added capabilities in Ghana. The project will enhance river transport, reduce accidents, and frequen= t loss of life on the lake while creating employment opportunities for the youth. The agreement granted salvage right to CSRD for an initial period of 15 years, which would be extended for another 10 years.

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