The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has directed the Ghana Manganese Company to stop mining operations by 15th February to allow for financial and technical audit of the company’s operations.
The directive is part of moves to get state-owned enterprises to be accountable.
In a letter signed by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah Cheremeh, to the company and seen by Citi Business News, the Ministry said a preliminary assessment of the company’s reports, documents and information available to government forced the it to ask for an immediate seizure of the company’s operations in its mining area.
Explaining the situation to Citi Business News, Public Relations Officer of the Ministry Lands and Natural Resources, Abraham Otabil said management of the company refused to cooperate with the ministry for auditing, hence the new directive.
“We have commissioned a team to audit mining companies because too many of them are leaving this country whether gold, bauxite or manganese. Just last week we also had reports of manganese leaving this shore of Ghana which amounts to about 105 percent as compared to 2018 which means that there is a lot more that mining companies have to do as far as their operations are concerned and the level of transparency.”
He continued “We have written, that was in the beginning of the year or late last year, even now that the former sector minister should make available their books to the lands commission that we have not seen. We have also received reports from the commission by the ministry to also go into their books.”
In January, it came to light that that “China’s imports of Ghana manganese ore surged in 2017 as Chinese company Tianyuan Manganese expanded its mining capacity in Ghana after it acquired Consolidated Minerals in November 2016.”
The report further indicated that “A total of 3.47 million metric tonne of manganese ore from Ghana entered China last year, up 106% from 2017, showed data from the Customs.”
It is not clear if the report triggered the government’s stance on transparency in the operation of the company but in July 2018, the then Sector Minister, Mr. John Peter Amewu, indicated that the government was not going to renew the mining lease of GMC because the company was “flouting its mining agreement.”
It had emerged that the company had failed to involve the government in the pricing of manganese ore that was being sold to a firm in China for processing; a situation which had the potential of depriving the country of millions of dollars in taxes and royalties.