Parliament Ratifies Ghana Bauxite Company’s Mining Lease

Samuel A.  Jinapor

Parliament has unanimously ratified the Mining Lease granted by Government to Ghana Bauxite Company to mine bauxite at Awaso in the Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai Municipality of the Western North Region. This was after a joint Parliamentary Committee of Mines and Energy and Lands and Forestry presented its report to the House on Wednesday, 26th June, 2024.

The Awaso bauxite mine forms an integral part of Government’s policy to build an integrated aluminium industry in the country. The Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC), which was established to promote and develop integrated aluminium industry in the country, has identified this mine as one of its Four Projects to build an integrated industry. As part of its strategy, GIADEC is working with strategic investors to expand the mine and build a refinery solution to refine bauxite mined in the area.

Currently, the Ghana Bauxite Company, which been in existence for over eighty (80) years, is the only bauxite producing company in the country. The Company has gone through different phases since it started operation in the 1940s. Originally owned by the British Aluminium Company Ltd, Government acquired fifty-five percent (55%) stake in the company in 1972, under the Mining Operations (Government Participation) Decree, 1972 (NRCD 132), passed pursuant to the National Redemption Council’s policy of “taking over the commanding heights of the economy.”

However, the company faced several challenges after this, with production decreasing from four hundred and seven thousand tonnes (407,000t) in 1974 to a paltry sixty-four thousand tonnes (64,000t) in 1982.

Government, therefore, decided to divest its interest in the Company, and in 1997, Alcan, a Canadian company, acquired eighty percent (80%) stake in the company, with Government holding the remaining twenty percent (20%). Rio Tinto, a British-Australian multinational, acquired Alcan’s interest in the company, before selling same to the Bosai Minerals Group in 2010.

In 2022, however, Ofori-Poku Company Limited (OPCL), a wholly owned Ghanaian company acquired the eighty-percent stake held by Bosai, making the company, for the first time in its eighty-year history, a wholly owned Ghanaian company.

OPCL was incorporated in 1990, and has enormous experience in the mining industry, having operated as a leading supplier of various mine services, including haulage, transport and provision of climate change solutions.

Following the expiration of its mining lease, the Company was granted a new lease on 3rd May, 2024, covering the Kanayerebo, Subri, Nchiniso, Afumba and Bokahirri Hills in Awaso. Earlier, this month, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, MP, laid the mining lease in Parliament for ratification, in accordance with article 268(1) of the 1992 Constitution, and the Speaker referred it to the Joint Committee of Mines and Energy and Lands and Forestry.

Presenting the report of the Joint Committee to Parliament, the Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee, Hon. Samuel Atta Akyea, said the request by the Minister for the mining lease to be ratified is in accord the constitutional provision which ensures parliamentary oversight over the management and utilisation of the natural resources of the country. He said the mining lease was consistent with the Constitution and relevant laws of the country, and ratifying it will bring tremendous benefits to Government and promote the socio-economic development of the area.

He said the Committee was, also, satisfied that the company has the financial and technical capacities to execute its obligations under the Lease, and, therefore, recommends the lease for ratification.

Members of the House praised the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources for bringing the lease to the House for ratification. They noted that the constitutional provision which requires Parliamentary ratification of mining leases have been violated by successive Governments since 1992. Members also congratulated the Minister and Government for securing a Ghanaian investor to invest in this strategic Mine, which makes the Mine wholly owned by Ghanaians. Members, again, lauded Government for incorporating plans to build a refinery into the agreement to ensure value addition to the minerals mined.

They expressed optimism that these measures will inure to the benefit of Ghanaians.

On his part, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, thanked the House and the members of the joint Committee for their diligence and for unanimously supporting the motion for the ratification of the mining lease. He said Government was fully committed to indigenising the mining industry, and is working with all stakeholders to ensure that Ghanaians participate fully across the full value chain of the mining industry.

The ratification of the mining lease grants the company full rights to operate the mine, secure the employment of the hundreds of people who depend on the mine and contribute to the socio-economic development of the community and the country at large.

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