MIIF calls for national dialogue on encroachment of quarry lands

CEO of MIIF, Edward Koranteng, says Ghana needs to address the issue of encroachment on quarry lands or risk importing stones from neighboring countries

The chief executive officer of the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF), Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng, says Ghana needs to urgently address the problem of encroachment on quarry lands or the country could be forced to import stones from neighbouring Togo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

He expressed this view when he addressed journalists during a tour of some quarry sites in the Western and Ashanti regions of the country.

“We are faced with an existential threat to the quarry industry. The problem of encroachment is incurably bad”.

“If we do not do something about it today, there can be no doubt that within fifteen (15) years, the quarries in operation in Ghana, cannot support the construction and infrastructure requirements of the country”  Koranteng said.

“We may then have to import stones from Togo, Burkina Faso or Ivory Coast in order to support our fast paced infrastructural development” he added.

He further intimated that, “research by MIIF projects the potential of royalties from the Quarry sector at GHS 100 Million a year but until recently, receipts of quarry royalties were at circa GHS3.5 Million. The encroachment by settlers and other issues may affect this royalties’ potential if nothing is done about this existential threat”.

Encroachment challenges

Chairman of the Northern Quarries Association, the umbrella body for quarry operators in the Northern half of Ghana, Adu Tutu Gyamfi, in his reaction to the call of the MIIF CEO noted that several quarries in the Ashanti and Western Regions have completely folded up because of land encroachment.

According to him, the laws governing quarries bar them (members of the association) from blasting rocks within 500 meters of human settlement.

“Encroachment on lands has occasioned several casualties and even some deaths traced to the activity of blasting. People have died and houses have collapsed because of blasting” Adu tutu Gyamfi said.

“Once people encroach our lands, we have to stop blasting to avoid death. Without blasting we have to close down. Sadly, many of our members have had to shut down operations because of encroachment” he added.

War on encroachers

Already, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mireku Duker, who is also the Member of Parliament for Tarkwa Nsuayem and a Board Member of MIIF has declared ‘war’ on encroachers so the quarry business can be preserved.

“It is really important for us to protect our natural resources. We are all yearning for development projects but how can we do it without our stones. If you encroach, how do we get them”.

“If assembly wants to build schools and you encroach, how do we resolve that. Where are they going to get the stones? Let’s come together as an association and a country to protect and prevent encroachment on these concessions” Duker is reported to have said.

Shutting down operations has several consequences for the country. Granite from the quarries are used in road, rail and building construction. Granite is therefore an essential industrial mineral whose royalties are received on behalf of the state by MIIF.

Apart from job losses, and capital investments going bad, the real threat is the importation of stones into Ghana from our West African neighbors which would increase the cost of infrastructure development.

Funding strategy

The MIIF CEO Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng as part of his tours, also indicated to the quarry association that the Fund is coming up with funding strategies to support the sector to help it expand and to be more efficient in their operations.

“We have designed an Inter-Agency Framework and initiated an Inter-Agency Task Force that includes the Minerals Commission, the Minerals Development Fund, the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority to facilitate the operational efficiency of the quarries and other non-gold minerals” the MIIF CEO said.

“This Task Force and Framework initiated by MIIF in December 2021, allows MIIF to ascertain production levels and facilitates communication with all stakeholders with reports on exact royalties from each quarry”.

“This initiative has seen an increase in quarry royalties and other non gold minerals by 100% within the period with sand winners paying royalties for the first time since the inception of MIIF” he added.

Koranteng noted that, MIIF is designing a de-risking mechanism with banks and insurance companies to support the provision of credit to the quarry sector.

“We are looking at the possibility of underwriting a percentage of loans to quarry companies which would be seeking credit from banks or risk participations with banks in the provision of loan facilities to the sector” Koranteng said.

This will naturally be subject to a set risk acceptance criteria including proof of payment of royalties” he noted.

Joint ventures

The MIIF boss advised captains of the sector to look at the possibilities of joint ventures in bidding for major jobs such as railways construction.

He further emphasized that, “MIIF’s intention is to provide value in order to derive value by supporting the expansion of the minerals sector which inadvertently leads to more royalties for the state and for Ghanaians”.

This is the strategic cycle underpinning such initiatives and MIIF’s overarching stance is to be seen as a partner in the development of the sector and not a royalties’ collection agent.

About MIIF

MIIF is a sovereign minerals fund mandated by the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act 2018, (Act 978) as amended, to maximize the value of dividend and royalties’ income accruing to the Republic of Ghana in a beneficial, accountable and sustainable manner and to monetize Ghana’s mineral wealth in a manner which would bring long term value to Ghana.

MIIF also has 100% ownership of Agyapa Royalties Company, the only state-owned gold royalties company in Africa. MIIF intends to list Agyapa on the London Stock Exchange and the Ghana Stock Exchange as planned later in 2022.

 Wilberforce Asare

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