THE EXTRACTIVE SECTOR IN GHANA is the nation's highest earning sector, dwarfing newly-found oil in terms of the foreign exchange it earns the country. Ghana is among the world's top gold producers but has a wealth of other natural resources, not all of which are currently been exploited.
As well as being endowed with substantial mineral resources, Ghana has a well-established mining sector, which has grown considerably in recent years to represent an important pillar of the Ghanaian economy.
The minerals extractive industry currently has 13 large-scale mining companies, over 300 registered small-scale mining groups and 99 support service companies.
Industrial minerals are geological materials mined for their commercial value. They are not mineral fuels and are not sources of metals (metallic minerals). They are used in their natural state or after beneficiation either as raw materials or as additives in a wide range of applications.
Industrial minerals produced in Ghana include diamonds, limestone/dolomite, granite, gravels and silica sand. Other are feldspar, kaolin, marble, salt and cement.
It is government policy to diversify the exploitation of its mineral resources base from the traditional minerals like gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese to include the exploitation of industrial minerals which could promote effective linkages in the economy, to reduce current over-reliance on imported substitutes.
The industry operates under the objectives of the National Mining and Minerals Policy. The core aim of the Mining and Minerals Policy is to: "Conserve and sustain the development of the nations mineral resources and the maintenance of the environment."
Mining and minerals policy objectives
* Ensuring that Ghana's mineral endowment is managed on a sustainable economic, social and environmental basis and that there is an equitable sharing of the financial and developmental benefits of mining between investors and all Ghanaian stakeholders
* Encouraging local and foreign private sector participation in the exploration for, and commercial exploitation of mineral resources, consistent with the government's commitment to a free-market enterprise economy. The government recognises that private sector investors need to be able to operate profitably, be internationally competitive and satisfy their shareholders' and employees' expectations.
To this end, the government will establish and maintain the following:
* Conducive macro-economic...