Over 1000 jobs to be created as PMMC constructs gold refinery

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Government is expected to create over 1000 jobs in 2019 in the mining sector with the construction of a state-owned gold refinery.

The refinery which is expected to cost some $20 million is a public-private partnership between Precious Minerals Marketing Company Ltd (PMMC), and Ghana Royal Gold Limited Company.

Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Benito Owusu Bio tells JoyBusiness, the move is expected to end the era of exporting raw gold out of Ghana. 

“The commitment is to ensure that, the foreign partner comes in with the financial commitment and funding to buy the gold from the local market and refine before is exported which should increase the foreign exchange. But whatever profits that they make, PMMC which has shares in equity by providing the Land for the construction will get 20%. 

With the structure being on the premises of the PMMC, they have been tasked to ensure that the local content policy is adhered to strictly. For instance, there will be more Ghanaians especially the artisans will get jobs right from the construction stage until the refinery begins operations in 2019.”

Mr Owusu Bio added that “this is expected to create over 1000 jobs for Ghanaians because these locals will be trained which includes technology transfer from the foreign partners.”

Construction work of the refinery is expected to be completed in May 2019 with full operation expected to kick-start in July 2019.

The facility when completed will help reduce the volume of gold exported annually by at least 50 per cent.

Although Ghana is one of the top 10 gold producing countries in the world with estimated production at 92 metric tonnes per year, its quest to add value to the raw gold has not yet been realized.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the PMMC, Dr Kwadwo Opare-Hammond, is confident that the facility will boost the country’s revenue from gold export.

According to him, when the refinery is completed, the PMMC will make sure that only refined gold would be exported out of Ghana and be used for Ghana’s jewellery industry.

“Once we have the refinery up and running, it would ensure that the gold that leaves this country would come through the refinery before it is taken out.

The contractor has assured that construction will be completed by April 2019, and hopefully with the setting up of the equipment, by the first of July 2019 the refinery would take off,” Mr Opare Hammend disclosed,

But the contractors of the facility are optimistic about meeting the 2019 deadline.

Data available shows that, Ghana produces between 400 and 600 kilograms of gold every day, however, this is exported in its raw form.

In 2017 for instance, the value of gold produced according to the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative GHEITI, was 4,919 million dollars, a 17 per cent increase from the figure recorded in 2015.

But some Gold experts believe this value of gold can be ten times higher if it is refined. 

As part of the Akufo-Addo government’s plans to achieve its target, this private partnership agreement would better the lots of government as Ghana remains one of the 10 gold producing countries in the world with production over the last three years pegged at 92 metric tonnes per year.

Although the history of the country in gold production dates back to over 100 years, the quest to add value to the raw gold has remained only a dream.
 

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Farmers were fairly compensated; they should allow the court to decide

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Farmers were fairly compensated; they should allow the court to decide – Newmont

Newmont Ghana has reaffirmed its commitment to fully engage with farmers in New Abirem to address concerns over their compensation packages.

This follows a demonstration by some farmers in the New Abirem District of the Eastern Region on Tuesday who are demanding better compensation from Newmont.

The demonstration, which started around 6:00 am saw the farmers block roads leading to the mining site at Adeisona, as they burnt car tyres to prevent the workers from going to the site.

Some farmers were eventually injured when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, Senior Director of Communications and External Relations at Newmont, Ama Bawuah, called on farmers seeking new and additional land and crop compensation, to allow the legal process to run its course, following earlier mediation efforts.

“We all very committed to engaging with all stakeholders. It is part of Newmont’s core value to engage with our communities and honour all our obligations to stakeholders. We look forward to a peaceful and amicable resolution of this issue. Whatever the court system decides, Newmont will abide by the court ruling.”

‘Farmers were not cheated.’

Ama Bawuah further indicated that though the farmers were fairly and fully adequately compensated, they decided to stage a demonstration demanding extra compensation packages.

“We engaged the land valuation board. We engaged with a reputable community valuer that was based on the agreement with all stakeholders, and we compensated fully and fairly, and the farmers decided to come back. They decided that the compensation they were paid was not enough, so they decided to come back. They have taken the issue to court based on their position on the matter, and we believe the court system will issue a judgment on their operation.”

Some five farmers who were part of the demonstration sustained injuries after police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them.

However, Newmont in a statement said the “police deployed personnel to ensure security and public order while protecting lives and property, following reports of intimidation and threats.”

“Unfortunately, some individuals have been confirmed to have sustained injuries and are being treated,” the statement added.

In July, the community group embarked on a similar demonstration against Newmont Ghana to express dissatisfaction with the ongoing legal process concerning their demands for land and crop compensation and employment, as well as allegations of building cracks from mine pit blasting.

Prior to this, the Company had been in mediation with the farmers led by an independent arbitrator.

The parties continued to engage on the matter through the mediation process until the case was sent back to court.

By: Marian Ansah/citinewsroom.com/Ghana

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‘Pull breaks on CTN, engage us more’ – GNCCI to GRA

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‘Pull breaks on CTN, engage us more’ – GNCCI to GRA

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) is alarmed at the apparent defiance by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to go ahead with the Cargo Tracking Notes policy despite the call to engage stakeholders further.

The GNCCI is the latest business group to have urged the GRA to pull the breaks on the CTN policy insisting that the move will increase cost of imports.

Full implementation of the CTN started on Monday [October 15, 2018] despite a lawsuit against the GRA by a concerned freight forwarder.

Addressing the media a day after the implementation of the Cargo Tracking Notes policy, the President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce, Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso I said the GRA ought to allow for further engagements.

“The Chamber was engaged in the initial stages and we think that they could have done more for all to be on the same level before going ahead with the implementation of the CTN,” he said.

Again, he indicated the need for Ghana to get things done right as it has worked to persuade neighboring Burkina Faso and others to direct traffic through Ghana.

The Ghana Revenue Authority has insisted that the program is to track revenue from shipment to Ghana from across the world.

The latest statement has also exempted all importers whose imports are less than 36 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).

As a result, it is anticipated that all cargo which were processed from October 15 from various ports of origin and headed to Ghana, within the next week or two, should bear the CTN number.

Meanwhile, Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso I believes addressing all teething issues will help in easing the cost of doing business in Ghana and improve the country’s ranking.

“The cost of doing business at the ports is still on the high side. The paperless system has come to save us on so many things in terms of speed and whatever. But the cost of duties and taxes at the ports are still on the high side. If you are clearing goods at the ports even at this time, there is a component dubbed miscellaneous and we ask ourselves what does it entail? All these things have to be looked at,” the President observed.

By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

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Prioritise employees as enabling stakeholders in businesses – PR Consultant

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Business owners have been advised to identify and prioritize their employees as crucial stakeholders who can positively or negatively impact their operations.

Speaking on business development programme Masterclass on Wednesday, PR Strategist and Principal Consultant at Mahogany Consult, Esi Essuman Johnson also emphasized the need to identify stakeholders as the cornerstone of effective communication in PR and stay committed to them.

Watch the video:

Joy Business Masterclass airs every Wednesday at 1:15 pm on your superstation, Joy 99.7 FM. 

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Subah Reaches end of Contract Settlement with GRA

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Subah Reaches end of Contract Settlement with GRA

SubahInfosolutions has agreed an out of court settlement with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The value of the settlement is approximately three months service fee GH¢16,440,226 which SubahInfosolutions will have earned during the remainder of the contract.

The parties have also agreed to an independent value-for-money audit of the assets and other technical infrastructure that SubahInfosolutions may have made to service the contract with the GRA.

Also, the GRA resolved to pay Subah all arrears (GH¢108,020,473) due and owed to Subah for services rendered during the tenure of the contract with the GRA.

The settlement follows a suit brought against the GRA and two other institutions; the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Attorney General’s Department following the purported termination of contract on 10th April, 2015.

Furthermore, SubahInfosolutions is mandated to withdraw all processes filed against the GRA and the Attorney General as part of the settlement.

It will be recalled that in 2010 the GRA engaged SubahInfolutions in 2010 to do real time monitoring of telcos billing systems for revenue assurance on behalf of the GRA.

Subah connected to telcos in May 2014 and its contract was due to expire in May 2015. Prior to the expiry date, GRA renewed the contract on April 11, 2015 for another one year, and with an option to renew for five more years based on specific performance indicators.

By: Citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

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ACEP demands basis for direct negotiations for oil blocks

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ACEP demands basis for direct negotiations for oil blocks
Benjamin Boakye – Executive Director, ACEP

The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) is demanding answers over the existence of direct negotiations in the allocation of oil blocks.

In ACEP’s view, this contravenes aspects of the law which states that a petroleum agreement shall only be entered into after an open, transparent and competitive tender process.

The energy think tank says the government must be clear and provide the basis for resorting to direct negotiations for available oil blocks.

ACEP’s comment follows the launch of the maiden bidding licensing rounds by President Akufo Addo on Monday [October 15, 2018].

“If there are reasons that justify the exercise of discretions in section 10 (9), those reasons should have been adduced at the time of the announcement to prevent speculations on why the ministry decided to carry out direct negotiations,” a statement from ACEP said.

Meanwhile, ACEP has lauded the government for its decision to undertake competitive bidding for oil blocks henceforth.

A statement from ACEP commending the government said: “This milestone is the result of a long journey of considerable engagement since 2013 when a more progressive draft of the Petroleum (Explorations and Production) Bill became available to the public.”

The exercise is also in fulfillment of the governing NPP’s manifesto to protect Ghana’s oil revenue and use it for the benefit of Ghanaians.

Again, ACEP commended the Ministry of Energy for its swiftness in getting some laws and regulations passed over the past nine months.

“This year, the Ministry of Energy has accelerated the processes to operationalize the transparency requirements of the Act to ensure that the key requirement for open and competitive bidding for petroleum blocks is not deferred and public access to Petroleum Agreements (PAs), is not restricted. In January, the ministry launched the Petroleum Register which has become the repository of all PAs, Permits and Authorizations. Subsequently the Licensing Round Committee was established to operationalize the licensing requirement in the Act 919.”

ACEP added, “The Ministry also drafted, engaged stakeholders and submitted the Petroleum (Explorations and Production) (General) Regulations to Parliament which was passed in August this year.  The regulations meet significant transparency benchmarks including the provisions for the publication of Beneficial Ownership (BO) of companies Ghana enters into PA with. This makes Ghana the first in ECOWAS and the second in Africa to have legislated BO disclosure requirements in the Oil and Gas sector. These are commendable efforts to ensure that PAs provide optimal benefits to the country.”

The energy think tank further maintained that it will continue to monitor the implementation of the Act 919 and the award processes initiated by the government to ensure there is satisfactory compliance with the transparency requirements of the law.

By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

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Dormant oil blocks: Petroleum Commission to recommend revocation of licenses 

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The Petroleum Commission has sent a signal to the oil and gas exploration companies on the Jubilee and TEN fields that it will soon recommend an action to be taken on dormant oil blocks.

According to the Commission, out of about 17 oil blocks sold between 2013 and 2016, 13 of the blocks still exist without any exploration activity making the country lose huge investments in the sector.

Answering questions on the development at a press briefing, Chief Executive of the Petroleum Commission, Egbert Faibile Junior disclosed that the Commission will soon recommend to the Ministry of Energy to sanction or revoke the licenses of owners of these oil blocks by December this year.

“We have realized that most of the oil blocks have become dormant for some time now contrary to the agreements signed between the investors and the government of Ghana.

The Commission has held series of meetings with some of these owners and they requested for some ample time to get back on the blocks, as I speak that ample time has elapsed so very soon we will be making a recommendation” Egbert Faibile Junior said.

Review of petroleum deals

The quest for action to be taken follows the call from the President, Nana Akufo-Addo that some oil blocks agreements need to be reviewed.

To accelerate further exploration activity, President Akufo-Addo has charged the Ministry of Energy to review existing operations in the industry, with the view to determining oil fields that are suboptimal. The review is also to cover Petroleum Agreements that are dormant.

“The Energy Ministry will engage with the operators, after the review, on the adoption of best methods for increasing oil recovery rate.

For Petroleum Agreements that are dormant, the Ministry will encourage the operators to consider inviting stronger partners to join them or risk the termination of these Petroleum Agreements, should they persist in failing to meet their minimum work obligations,” President Akufo-Addo stressed.

Blueprint

In seeking to increase Ghana’s oil reserves and improve on oil and gas production, Cabinet is expected to soon approve a ‘Blueprint and Roadmap for Accelerated Oil and Gas Exploration and Development’, which is based on a new strategy of aggressive exploration.

“The strategy seeks to build synergies with the domestic downstream petroleum sector; to increase Ghanaian participation in the oil industry, and to accelerate the pace of institutional capacity development to manage our oil and gas resources efficiently,” President Akufo-Addo said.

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Newmont Ghana urges calm after aggrieved residents clashed with police at New Abirem

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Newmont Ghana says it is committed to transparent engagements with local communities to improve lives and collaboratively identifying solutions to mitigate impacts from its operations.

The Company has also called on the section of community farmers seeking new and additional land and crop compensation, among other issues, to allow the legal process to run its course following earlier mediation efforts.

It follows Tuesday’s violent clash between angry residents the police who had been deployed to ensure security and public order while protecting lives and property. The company said the security personnel were deployed it received reports that the angry residents were intimidation and threatening its staff.

Some individuals sustained injuries following the clash with the police personnel and are being treated. The Company in a statement, is calling on all sides to exercise restraint and good judgement to avoid confrontations.

“Newmont’s sustainability approach involves building and maintaining respectful relationships with our host communities. This means a strong commitment to direct, good-faith dialogue, while ensuring compliance with all relevant national laws, regulations, and international best practices,” said Joep Coenen, General Manager – Akyem Mine.

“As a responsible company, we have consistently met our legal obligations to our stakeholders since we began operations at Akyem and we will continue to do so,” said Mr. Coenen.

“As this case is currently before the courts, we urge any protesters to let the case run its course through the judicial system.”

In July, the community group embarked on a similar demonstration against Newmont Ghana to express dissatisfaction with the ongoing legal process concerning their demands for land and crop compensation and employment, as well as allegations of building cracks from mine pit blasting.

Prior to this, the Company had been in mediation with the farmers led by an independent arbitrator. The parties continued to engage on the matter through the mediation process until the case was referred back to court. Newmont Ghana will continue to focus on engaging with stakeholders to address their needs and concerns, fairly, respectfully and responsibly.

“We will continue transparent and respectful engagement with our stakeholders, including the farmers, Stool Land Owners and District Security Committee (DISEC) as we work towards resolving this issue amicably,” concluded Mr. Coenen.

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Amewu ‘brags’ over $50m savings in renegotiated Ameri deal

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Energy Minister John Peter Amewu is claiming the government has saved $50 million in yet another renegotiated AMERI deal.

It will be the second renegotiation of a highly controversial power deal by the government after the first was heavily criticized.

Amewu told Evans Mensah on PM Express, a current affairs programme, on Joy News, Monday evening, that government has concluded another renegotiation of the old deal.

This means the Novation Agreement that the current government sent to Parliament to replace the original agreement under John Mahama has also been thrown out.

According to the Minister, the country has saved “above $50 million” under the new terms agreed between the state and the Dubai-based AMERI Energy.

He also said on the late-night show that government’s inability to cancel the power purchasing deal it had criticised while in opposition is completely justified.

AMERI PLANT.jpg

The Ameri Power barges were brought into the country at the height of the country’s power crisis.

Controversial Novation Agreement

Despite widespread condemnation from the public and energy think thanks, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo approved the renegotiated Ameri deal  (the Novation Agreement) by an Executive Order.

That deal is currently in Parliament awaiting a formal notice of withdrawal by the Energy Minister.

A statement by the President’s secretary, Nana Asante Bediatuo stated that “the President of the Republic of Ghana has granted executive approval for the Novation and Amendment Agreement dated July 20, 2018 between (i) the Government of the Republic of Ghana represented by the Minister for Energy ( or his authorised representative), (ii) Volta River Authority(VRA), (iii) Africa and Middle East Resource Investment Group(AMERI ENERGY), (iv) Ameri Energy Power Equipment Trading LLC ( AMERI EQUIPMENT), (v) Power Projects Sanayi Insaat Ticanet Limited Sirketi (PPR), and (vi) Mytilineos International Trading Company AG (Mytilineos), for operations and maintenance of the existing 250MW AMERI Thermal Plant at Aboadzi, for a period of 15 years.”

The Novation Agreement had been criticised on grounds that it was worse than the previous one that was condemned by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) while campaigning to win power in the lead up to the 2016 elections.

Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), for instance, said the new deal will cost the country more after the 15 year period.

ACEP said it expected that a renegotiation of the contract with AMERI, which costs $510 million to the state, would achieve better terms for the country.

“But from ACEP’s analysis, the proposed amendment to the AMERI agreement brings the greater cost to government than the existing deal,” ACEP had criticised in the heat of the opposition to the renegotiated deal.

The Institute of Energy Security (IES) also said the country risks paying more when the deal is agreed upon, in its current form.

Under the Novation Agreement, a new company, Mytilineos International Trading Company, will take over the management of the AMERI power plant for 15 years.

The new company has offered to pay AMERI an amount of $52,160,560, with the government paying the remaining $39 million to the Dubai-based AMERI Energy to wash its hands off the deal entirely.

Novation agreement withdrawn, old deal renegotiated

Speaking on PM Express, Mr Amewu explains, “formally I will go to Parliament and withdraw the Novation Agreement and I will replace the Novation Agreement with the new one.”

This new deal that will replace the controversial Novation Agreement is, however, yet to reach Cabinet, the Minister revealed.

“This savings that we are doing now is just for two and half years. And so if we are saving almost $ 60 million in two and half years, if we are to work [for longer periods of time] it should tell you that we could be saving more than $100 million,” he justified the new deal.

Ameri has come to stay, the Minister admits.

Mahama’s controversial deal

John Mahama

John Mahama’s government in 2015 courted fierce controversy when it signed a contract with Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group (AMERI) Energy, to rent the 300MW of emergency power from AMERI.

The deal, which cost the country $510 million was necessitated by the country’s debilitating power crisis at the time.

Government under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said it has evidence to prove that the previous government had caused the state to overpay for the power deal by some $150 million.

The government subsequently presented the Novation Agreement to Parliament as it kickstarted a process to withdraw the old deal.

That Novation Agreement is what has been withdrawn, according to the Energy Minister.

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EXIM Bank commits GH₵9.2 million to Shea industry

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Ghana’s shea industry is to receive a major boost as the Ghana Export and Import Bank (EXIM Bank) has committed GH₵9.2 million for the processing of Shea into cosmetic products and also for large-scale export.

Deputy Manager and Director for communications at EXIM Bank, Richard Osei Anane said the bank is committed to enhancing the growth of the shea industry in Ghana.

“We have come to realize that in the three Northern regions, the shea nut industry is very thriving and therefore the bank has decided to come out with a project which is the Shea Empowerment Initiative with an amount of more than nine million Ghana cedis to support the capacity building and financing of the women in that industry from the picking, processing and export,” he disclosed to JoyBusiness.  

According to the bank, the investment should translate into the creation of 300 direct jobs.

As of 2017, Ghana earned $70.2 million from the export of shea butter products.

Within the agricultural subsector, shea nut was the second highest export earner with 34 million dollars in 2015; behind cashew nut.

Reports from COCOBOD shows that out of the 200 million-dollar profits recorded by shea in 2017, Ghana was able to rake in $70 million.

Shea products are the second non-traditional food crop in Ghana with over 300,000 farmers benefiting from the entire food chain.

The shea nut industry offers employment for many individuals in Northern Ghana, particularly women in rural communities who are involved in all of its value chain processes.

Following the decrease in the yields, the price for the nuts has gone up as many of the shea nuts pickers comb many bushes, which hitherto were known places for shea nuts but are unable to get the nuts.

Similarly, many of the shea nut processors are unable to get access to the nuts to process.

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