The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has assured civil society organisations (CSOs) that superior propositions that will improve the country’s lithium mining lease will be taken into consideration before the agreement is laid in Parliament for approval.
He said although the government was fully convinced that the terms of the lithium lease granted to Barari DV Ltd remained the best for the country, there was room for deeper engagement with stakeholders to accommodate any “superior alternative” to the current negotiated terms of the lease.
“If any superior arguments and alternatives come up, requiring a review of the terms of the lithium mining lease with Barari DV Ltd, it will be considered.
I am happy to listen to superior arguments on this issue.
We will examine the arguments from experts and citizens because we believe that this approach helps to shape policy,” he said.
Mr Jinapor gave the assurance at a stakeholder engagement organised by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) in Accra last Friday to discuss the lithium mining lease.
The forum, which brought together CSOs and government agencies in the mining space, was meant to foster understanding of the content of the agreement and provide accurate information and data on the potential quality, value and revenue expected from the lithium find to guide public discourse on the issue.
Again, the forum offered an opportunity for inputs and recommendations to be made to guide parliamentary debate on the proposed lithium agreement.
Mr Jinapor said the common platform created by the NRGI for stakeholders to discuss the mining lease was crucial as it would help to address most of the pertinent issues raised so far.
However, he said because issues about mining were quite “expert-loaded, complex, intricate and technical”, it was important to segregate opinions from factual data and expert positions.
Mr Jinapor made the case that the current lithium mining lease was not based on colonial architecture as had been suggested by some critics.
Justifying that point, he said the current lithium agreement had a solid regime for local participation as that was the first-ever mining lease that compelled the company to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE).
Again, he said, the deal had a clause that made it impossible for the company to export lithium out of the country in the raw form.
“In the past, the mining regimes have been about the export of raw materials.
This is the first time we have put in a mining lease a clause for mandatory setting up of a refinery, so this cannot be a colonial regime as has been suggested,” he stressed.
Mr Jinapor also extolled the carried interest, which he said was better than what other countries had in such agreements and dispelled assertions that Barari DV Ltd had been given tax exemption for 10 years.
“This is not true at all.
They will start paying taxes as soon as they start mining,” he said.
The Africa Director of NRGI, Nafi Chinery, said the keen interest by various interest groups in the lithium mining lease was positive energy because the extraction of the resource presented both opportunities and challenges and, therefore, required that things were done right.
“What we need to do as stakeholders is to be constructive in our engagement on this matter as that will ensure that we collectively work towards a framework that gives us agreement that protects the environment, respects local communities and national interest,” he said.
The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye, said the failure of the mandated state agencies to promptly engage other stakeholders on the lithium mining deals accounted for the current impasse.
A Co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), Dr Steve Manteaw, called on the government to take steps to amend aspects of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) to reflect the current lithium mining lease.