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Mr Alfred Baku, the head of Gold Fields Ghana Ltd. and first Vice President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines has intimated that his outfit, in collaboration with partners, have plans to build an airport for the Tarkwa community.
This plan forms part of its legacy projects which seeks to establish together with partners to support the development of the Tarkwa community and its environs.
"We are on the right track, because we are into legacy projects. When we started, we were actually focusing on how we can help our host communities in terms of getting them water, sanitation, in terms of education, scholarships, [et cetera].
"So, now we are into legacy projects… like the road we have tarred between Tarkwa and Damang. [That] is a tangible thing that people can feel… If you look at the Tarkwa area, we don’t have an airport. It is something that we are collaborating with our partners to see how we can get an airport. Come one day, we will also turn most of our host communities into a Johannesburg…" – Alfred Baku, Head, Gold Fields
Consequently, he disagreed with the ongoing narrative that seeks to compare the development of mining communities in Ghana to that of South Africa’s Johannesburg and thus describes them as simply a mismatch.
"Trying to compare Ghana with Johannesburg, I think it’s a mismatch. In the sense that, if you look at how long ago mining started in Johannesburg and also compare to Ghana, they started way before Ghana. So therefore, it makes it a mismatch, [but] we are also doing our best."
Gold Fields Developmental Projects in host mining community
Meanwhile, he recounted the several developmental projects that the gold major has rolled out including a 33km asphalt road connecting Tarkwa to Damang which costs almost US$30 million, upgrading the TNA stadium which will amount to about US$16 million upon completion, provision and upgrade of health facilities at an estimated cost of US$ 7 million, among others. Gold Fields Ghana also has a huge workforce of more than 4000 employees.
With regards to spending of its revenues on host communities, that has increased from around 7 per cent in 2016 to 58 per cent in 2021, and with more projects underway, this proportion of total spending on the host communities should increase.
Following this, and within the same period, the mining major’s spending in-country also increased from 78 per cent in 2016 to 94 percent in 2021, indicating huge expenditure on national projects.
In respect of the country’s COVID-19 fight, Gold Fields Ghana has supported the government with a total of US$2.3 million. It has also contributed US$1.5 billion in corporate taxes and royalties, another US$116 million as dividends to the government, and US$296 million as PAYE taxes to the government, amounting to close to US$3 billion in various taxes so far.
If all of these monies are going to the government in taxes, it will be rather fair to ask how much the government has put into direct use in order to accelerate the development of the mining communities.
Mining companies such as Gold Fields Ghana are pursuing their corporate social responsibility doing as much as they can while also looking to make profits for their shareholders.
One thing is clear, to see our mining communities develop, the government must not leave it all as a responsibility for the mining companies but must be adequately involved to accelerate their development and progress.