Lithium contract is not best; Parliament should exercise caution to secure a modern agreement – IEA to government

Source The Ghana Report

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has expressed grave concerns about the Lithium Mining Agreement signed on October 20, 2023, between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Barari DV Ghana Limited.

The agreement leased a certain piece of land at Ewoyaa, in the Mfantsiman Municipality in the Central region and granted rights to mine Lithium and ‘other associated minerals’, for a term of 15 years from the date of the agreement.

The concerns captured in a statement included “The IEA believes that being a contract to exploit Ghana’s natural resource, the Agreement, as per Article 268 of the 1992 Constitution, requires ratification by Parliament in order to be legally effective. The IEA is pleased to note a statement issued by the Minority in Parliament on 24th October, 2023, that the Agreement requires prior approval of Parliament”.

Again “the IEA firmly believes that the terms of the Agreement, which the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, have touted as favourable to Ghana and surpassing those of other lithium leases around the world, is not different in principle and substance from any Ghana’s previous colonial-type agreements, which over the years, have yielded very little to the overall benefit of the average Ghanaian”.

Additionally, it said “in modern best-practice, the exploitation or extraction of mineral resources is covered by either a joint-venture agreement – whereby the host country takes an agreed ownership in the mining company – or a service contract – whereby the host country contracts the mining company, selected through a transparent and competitive bidding process, to mine the mineral and be reimbursed for its cost of production plus a profit margin”.

The think tank, therefore, advised Parliament to exercise caution and patience to secure a modern, best practice-based arrangement that will guarantee maximum benefit for the people of the Republic Ghana, “instead of the usual colonial-type lease that benefits foreign companies’, masquerading as investors, and their local cohorts”.

It continued that it has for a long time been an advocate of favourable mining fiscal regimes for Ghana to enable the country maximise its benefits from its natural resource wealth.

In particular, the IEA pointed out, it has frowned on the colonial-type contracts skewed in favour of foreign companies.

“The IEA recognises Ghana’s natural resources as the low-hanging fruits that can be leveraged to accelerate the development of the country and eradicate poverty within a generation. It is inexcusable that we continue to sell our birthright cheaply only to descend on Western capitals to seek reparation for the slave trade or beg for aid. President Paul Kagame could not have put it more eloquently when he said: If the Owners of Natural Resources Go around Begging, Then You Should Know There’s Something Wrong with Their Minds.”

“Yes, Ghana is rich, let us finally take full and meaningful control of the management of our wealth”, it added.

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