THE Minister of Lands and Natural resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, has urged mining companies operating in the country to act in accordance with the law and honour the terms of their agreement with the country.
That, they must do by honestly and earnestly paying the dividends due the state.
Despite the country having a 10 per cent carried interest in all mining companies operating in the country, the Auditor General’s Report on the consolidated fund in 2014 indicated that only four out of the 22 mining companies operating in the country had paid any form of dividend to the government over a 10-year period.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report for 2015 also indicated that only two mining firms’ paid dividends to government, while in 2016, no company paid any dividend to the government.
Addressing the media after receiving a GH₵61.9 million from Chirano Mines as dividend for the 2017 fiscal year, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh urged other mining companies to follow the example of Chirano and also pay dividends to the state.
“Chirano has shown the way and we hope others will follow suit. We hope these are signs that dividends will start flowing,” he stated.
Strong performance in 2017
The Vice-President and General Manager of Chirano Mines, Mr Adriano Sobreira, who presented the cheque, said the board of the company approved the dividend following a strong performance in 2017.
“The dividend was based on the financial criteria and group performance in 2017 and we are proud of ourselves because this illustrates our capacity as a gold mining company to create and deliver value to all our stakeholders,” he noted.
On its financial commitments to the state, Mr Sobreira said apart from the dividend paid, the mining firm had also invested a total of US$1.8 billion in various sectors of the economy since 2011.
"From 2011 to 2017, the company contributed approximately US$400 million to the national economy through taxes and royalties paid to the government and US$257 million through wages and salaries paid to employees, 98 per cent of whom are Ghanaians,” he stated.
"The company has also provided numerous business opportunities to local contractors with nearly US$1.2 billion spent on goods and services with local companies since 2011, and with 73 per cent of all procurement at Chirano done in-country in 2017,” he added.
He said the Chirano Mines had also supported the education, health and other sectors of the local economy, impacting about 212,000 beneficiaries in the host community and beyond.
"Since 2011, the company has spent US$12 million on many programmes for the local communities, including building schools, clinics, providing vital medical equipment to health facilities and funding professional training for more than 300 youth," he said.
Dividend as business decision
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Sulemana Koney, said the payment of dividends was a business decisions and, therefore, expressed the hope that mining companies would pay it when the time was right, based on their dividend policy.
While commending Chirano Mines for the show of faith in the country’s economy, he said “when dividends are paid we are excited and hope this will continue.”
He said the Chamber saw itself as partners in development and, therefore, called for more collaboration between the government and mining companies.
“It is only through collaboration with the government that the companies will continue to thrive and be viable and improve their fortunes,” he said. —GB