Manager of local supplier and contractor development, George Brakoh, explains how the economic legacy left behind by Newmont Ghana Gold will benefit the local community for years to come.
Boasting economic growth rates that have consistently topped six percent in recent years, Ghana is universally lauded as being an emerging African economic success story. A peaceful and stable democratic nation, Ghana continues to make strong progress towards its goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2020.
Like many companies currently based in the country, the Newmont Mining Corporation has found Ghana to be a land of great opportunity and one where it expand its own global reach. One of the largest and oldest gold producers, the Newmont Mining Corporation holds significant assets in North and South America, Australasia and the Far East, employing 43,000 staff and contractors worldwide.
In Ghana, Newmont’s African activities are presently centred on its Ahafo operation. Located beneath an area inhabited by around 1700 households, Newmont’s staff made great strides in successfully resettling the affected community, compensating residents financially and providing them with new homes, schools and titles to land that they were previously not allowed to own.
Today the mine supports the employment of 1800 people directly employed by Newmont and provides work for a further 3000 contractors on site. As the mine has continued to develop particular focus has turned to Newmont’s Ahafo Linkage Programme, a three year project designed to increase procurement from local suppliers.
“Over the course of the last six months,” explains George Brakoh, manager of local supplier and contractor development for Newmont Ghana Gold, “we have successfully completed the first phase of this programme. Today we find ourselves embarking upon the next stage of our strategy, which will focus on promoting the mentoring of small business by some of our larger contractors.”
A joint agreement already exists between Newmont Ghana Gold and several of its contractors that states that they will work towards providing small local businesses with the type of support that will give them the opportunity to grow. Meanwhile, a similar mission being undertaken at Ahafo involves a drive to create more private-public sector partnerships and increase the level of dialogue between the two sectors.
“Most of the time,” Brakoh continues, “what we find is that the two sectors tend not to understand one another. What we want to do is create a scenario where the two sides can connect with one another. We believe that this will ultimately create a more level business environment that will allow everyone to grow more effectively.”
What the company is equally keen to ensure is that a legacy of economic stability and growth remains long after the mine has ceased operations. One of the ways it plans to achieve this is through the strengthening of regional agribusiness. “We believe the environment around the mine provides excellent economic opportunities,” Brakoh enthuses, “and we want it to remain that way even when our own presence diminishes. What we are striving to do is encourage more successful local businesses to invest some of their profits into various agribusinesses.”
On the national front, Newmont Ghana Gold is at the forefront of efforts to develop local content agreements across the country. These efforts have the full support of the Ghanaian government who have brought in local content laws that require mining companies to submit local procurement plans, based on a list of items.
Working in collaboration with the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Newmont has thus far identified 28 different product categories that it believes can be sourced locally. Together with a number of specialist consultants, the company has been carrying out in-depth analysis of these products and the companies that manufacture them in the country.
“Based on the progress made to date,” Brakoh says, “we have proposed that a programme focused on driving local content agreements begins in early 2013. What we believe we can achieve in the short-to-medium term is to attract an increasing number of foreign investors into the country, with the ultimate aim being to encourage them to partner with local businesses. This is all part of a long-term strategy that we have mapped out that we believe will lead to a situation where international manufacturers will be able to utilise Ghanaian businesses to establish their own local operations.”
Newmont Ghana Gold will certainly be hoping that its local content programme meets with the same success and approval as some of its other initiatives. In early October, the company was commended by the country’s Asanthehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, for establishing the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation, an enterprise that seeks to ensure the sustainable development of its host communities.
Otumfuo praised the company for the cordial working relationship it has maintained with local communities and reaffirmed his belief that if all other mines could emulate the example set by Newmont, the lives of mining communities across Ghana and Africa as a whole would improve by leaps and bounds.
“Together with our partners in the local community we have achieved a lot at Ahafo,” Brakoh says, “and the results are there for all to see. What I, like many others, now believe is that we have the potential to achieve something just as big on a national scale. Thanks to Ahafo there are numerous examples of local businesses that today have the potential to grow further thanks to opportunities that didn’t exist before and we are passionate about making such opportunities available on a national level. We are under no illusion that this will pose significant challenges, but with the best efforts of everyone involved we feel that what happens in Ghana will set an excellent example that other countries can follow.”
Written by Will Daynes, research by Richard Halfhide