The Cabinet has granted its approval to a fresh policy that governs the utilization, administration, and oversight of lithium and other environmentally friendly minerals within the country.
Termed as “minerals of the future,” green minerals encompass metals and mineral resources essential for facilitating the transition towards clean energy technologies, aimed at curbing carbon emissions.
A diverse array of minerals categorized as green minerals encompass bauxite, cobalt, copper, lithium, granite, manganese, and nickel.
Samuel Abu Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, informed the Daily Graphic last Thursday that the Cabinet endorsed this policy on July 27 of this year after thorough examination.
Thus, the newly established Green Minerals Policy introduces modifications to the 2014 Mining and Minerals Policy to integrate comprehensive and forward-looking systems that will allow the nation to derive maximum advantages from lithium and other green minerals.
Mr. Jinapor conveyed that this fresh policy would lead to legislative interventions by the Parliament, including amendments to the Minerals and Mining Act of 2006 (Act 703), with the relevant processes already underway.
As an example, he noted that while Act 703 stipulated a mineral royalty rate ranging from three to five percent, the new policy would establish a distinct royalty framework for green minerals.
“I reached out to the CEO of the Minerals Commission last week, requesting a strategy document within a week for implementing the principles of this policy. Our aim is to expedite this process,” the minister expressed.
“I won’t reveal the exact rate for green mineral royalties for now, but I can confirm that it will surpass the existing rate for gold. The key point is that the royalty system for green minerals will differ from that of gold and other minerals,” Mr. Jinapor affirmed.
Furthermore, the minister emphasized that the new policy would require a higher level of local involvement in the green minerals value chain, deviating from the current 10 percent vested interest that the state holds in mining entities.
“We will insist on a specific minimum Ghanaian participation that will unquestionably exceed 10 percent. I am hesitant to provide precise figures at this time. A Cabinet decision on a baseline exists, and we will not go beneath that threshold in any negotiations concerning our lithium and other green minerals,” he emphasized.
Mr. Jinapor added that the overarching objective of the new policy was rooted in the principle that the exploitation of green minerals should primarily benefit the Ghanaian populace, who are the true proprietors of these resources.
He noted that due to this principle, the foundational components for exploiting green minerals would diverge from those that pertain to gold, particularly.
The minister stressed that the central focus of the new policy was on value addition to ensure active Ghanaian involvement in the value chain.
“Hence, the mining and export of raw lithium is strictly prohibited,” he emphasized.
Mr. Jinapor also highlighted that the policy aimed to introduce incentives and measures to attract the necessary investments. This would encompass stability clauses, development agreements, and other mechanisms to provide investors with the confidence to allocate resources to the sector.
He assured that these arrangements would be established in a manner that achieves a fair equilibrium, resulting in a mutually beneficial scenario for both the country and the investor community.
“We will conduct negotiations on a case-by-case basis, all within the framework of this new policy,” he explained.
In addition to green minerals like bauxite, manganese, graphite, and cobalt, Ghana has discovered commercially viable deposits of lithium, particularly in Ewoyaa, located in the Central Region.
Several African nations, including Zimbabwe, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali, also possess commercial lithium reserves, while Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Namibia are home to graphite deposits.
Globally, the lithium sector alone is estimated to be worth $11 billion during the mining stage, with its highest potential value estimated at $7 trillion.
Given this context, Mr. Jinapor underscored that the green minerals policy specifically aims to enhance the value of lithium prior to exporting it.
He clarified that contrary to reports of licenses being issued for lithium mining, the government had not granted any such licenses.
“No individual or entity holds permits or licenses for mining or exploiting lithium. The licenses that were issued were for exploration, which is distinct from exploitation,” he emphasized.
He further explained that it was through exploration activities that commercial-grade lithium was discovered at Ewoyaa.
Mr. Jinapor concluded that while the next step involves mining this mineral resource, the government’s primary focus is on establishing the policy framework before progressing to mining operations.