The Chamber of Mines is preparing guidelines to enhance corporate social responsibility in the mining industry to ensure sustainable development.
Mining companies operating in various communities throughout the country have been embarking on different projects but have on many occasions been accused of environmental and human-rights abuses.
Yesterday, the Chamber of Mines brought together representatives of mining companies, district assemblies, residents in some mining communities and traditional leaders who have been identified as key stakeholders to deliberate on the guidelines which are currently at a draft stage.
Speaking to the stakeholders, Ben Aryee, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber of Mines, noted that besides the statutory contributions which mining companies pay to government, they also contribute voluntarily to corporate social responsibility.
In 2009, mining companies voluntarily spent $10 million while in 2010 they used a total of $17.6 million to execute various projects as part of their corporate social responsibility.
He said “in most cases the companies decide to do what they think the community needed without taking into consideration what is in the best interest of the people. Monies spent on projects do not promote the long-term development of the communities.”
Mr Aryee also criticized some traditional leaders for not using monies meant for development projects for intended purposes, adding, “the chiefs decide the money belong to them and so they money end up in their pockets.”
He pointed out that the natural resources which the communities are endowed with are not infinite, adding “this is why we should not undertake projects with a perspective for today, if we do that what will happen in the future. We must ensure that the future generations are not deprived of the benefits of these resources.”
Jerry Ahadjie, Principal Policy and Planning officer of the Chamber of Mines noted that the guidelines are designed to serve as a benchmark for the development and assessment of corporate social responsibility programmes and activities of mining companies.
“The guidelines do not prescribe specifics it just set broad directions in the context of shared values for the mining companies.”
Later in an interview, Mr Ahadjie stated that for the next three years, the mining companies would be expected to voluntarily undertake corporate social responsibility programmes.
Richard Kofi Afenu, Manager, Sectoral Policy Planning of the Chamber, who educated the participants at the workshop on the guidelines, stated mining companies should adopt a policy to hire local people and provide training to enhance their skills.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey