allAfrica.com: Chamber of Mines Briefs Shell Top Brass on Initiatives to Ensure Sustainable Development (ShellNews.net)
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra)
October 18, 2004
Posted October 18, 2004
TOP executives of Shell West Africa and Shell Africa have been provided with an in-depth case study of initiatives by the Ghana Chamber of Mines to promote sustainable development in the Ghanaian mining sector.
Ms. Joyce Aryee, Executive Director of the Chamber, provided the in-depth analysis in an address to about 20 Shell executives who last week-end concluded a three-day seminar on Sustainable Development at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra.
Ms. Aryee's audience consisted of country chairmen of Shell International subsidiaries in West and Central Africa, Shell Africa executives from South Africa and London as well as facilitating Shell officials based in Brussels and Lome.
Sustainable Development, she noted, meant utilizing the earth's resources "to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own."
On the basis of such internationally acceptable definition, the Ghana Chamber of Mines considered the policy as bedrock to the survival of the businesses of its individual corporate entities as well as the survival and continued well-being of the communities in which the companies operated.
Thus, the Chamber has over the years initiated a number of projects aimed at protecting the environment, providing revenue-generating ventures that could be sustained long after the mines closed down, and assisting the communities reach out for higher standards of living.
Ms. Aryee noted that the mining industry in Ghana had consistently been the highest gross foreign exchange earner. In 2003, for example, the gold mining sector alone accounted for more than a third of Ghana's merchandise exports amounting to over $700 million. The mining industry was also the third highest contributor to Internal Revenue collections in the same year.
"Beyond those and other statutory contributions, the mining sector, as part of its social responsibility, introduced various Alternative Livelihood Projects aimed at providing sustainable employment to the communities," she stated.
Those projects included snail farming, rabbit rearing, cashew growing and aquaculture. These are projects that have the capacity to thrive even when the mining units close and the communities no longer receive support from them.
Ghanaian mining companies further voluntarily contributed more than $13 million to their host communities for infrastructural projects such as schools, clinics, potable water and extension of electricity "to improve the quality of life of the host communities."
Ms. Aryee told her audience of Shell executives that the mining industry has spawned a number of local secondary industries that supplied essential inputs to the mining companies' productive processes. Those new industries included African Explosives and UEE Explosives that supplied explosives to the mines; Carmeuse which supplied lime and Western Castings which supplied grinding media to gold production mines.
The Ghana Chamber of Mines, Ms. Aryee said, saw mining as a catalyst for national development but warned that initiatives to harness the potential of mining for national development should not be by chance or afterthoughts.
She therefore called on the Shell executives from West and Central Africa to work with research institutions, government agencies, other business entities and other stakeholders to fruitfully pursue the SD agenda.
Speaking on the topic, "Mining as an Agent of Sustainable Development: The Role of the Industry", Ms. Aryee reminded the guests that the mining and oil industries had a few things in common. They were both extractive and both, she noted, had many lives depending on them though the two sectors currently formed less than 3.2 per cent of the International Finance Corporation's commitment for total global investment.
"Whilst small, relative to other industries, the two industries are central to the global economy as a supplier of the fuel that drives economies and the supplier for other raw materials for other sectors," she pointed out.
The two industries, Ms. Aryee noted, also suffered from negative stereotyping and perceptions from the public, media and pressure groups. Additionally, the financial sector was increasingly focusing on the two industries from both risk management and social responsibility perspectives while "maintaining a license to operate" from state and government agencies was a constant threat.
Ms. Aryee proposed that the mining and oil sectors could address those poor perceptions, and constant threats vigorous adoption of a Sustainable Development agenda as a sine qua non for business growth. There should be a move towards a sustainable development model driven purely by self-interest rather than regulatory pressure.
At the very least, the existence of an SD business case serves to persuade business executives that responsible business can represent something other than a bottom-line cost - that doing what is morally the right thing will at least not lose money," Ms. Aryee stated.
Shell executives at the dinner included Mr. George Brunton, Shell West Africa Vice-President; Mr Michael Crowthers, Vice-President in charge of Health, Safety and Sustainable Development; Mr. Sedick Samadien, Vice-President in charge of Strategy, Portfolio and External Affairs (Africa); Ms. Claudia Mpeta of Shell Oil Products Africa; and Mr, Roy L. Kretzen, Country Chairman for Ghana.