Tension and anxiety are brewing at the Ghana Bauxite Company (GBC) Limited at Awaso in the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai District in the Western North Region following the decision by the strategic investor to pull out.
The investor, Bosai Minerals Group from China, which has an 80 per cent stake in the company, has written to the government about its intention to sell its shares and pack out.
Bosai Minerals Group has decided to exit the country due to the non-renewal of the mining lease of the GBC which expires on January 9, 2022.
The exit of the strategic investor has led to uneasiness and apprehension among the 700 workers of the GBC who are worried about their job security and the future of the only operational bauxite mine in the country.
Many people at Awaso and surrounding communities whose livelihood depends largely on the mine have also expressed worry about the negative impact such a situation would have on them.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the existing site where the company mines bauxite will reach its lifespan in six months’ time, a situation which requires GBC to develop a nearby site, a process that could take up to a year with heavy capital outlay.
While some of the workers are calling on the government to find another strategic investor as soon as possible to develop a new site, others want a process to be activated for them to be paid severance packages when the company goes into the development stage.
Prior to the coming of the strategic investor in 2010, GBC was making a loss of around $11 million a year. The investor has turned the fortunes around and returned the company to winning ways, recording a profit of $4 million in 2019 and $6 million last year.
Also, the strategic investor has increased production from 600,000 tonnes to around 1.4 million tonnes.
In view of the exit of the strategic investor, the Board of Directors on Thursday, August 12, 2021, held a meeting on GBC premises at Awaso with the management and leaders of the workers union.
Also present at the meeting were representatives from the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC), the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai, Alfred Obeng-Boateng, and officials from the Ghana Mine Workers Union.
The Director of Political Affairs at the Office of the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Mr Frank Asiedu-Bekoe, was also present at the meeting. He assured the workers of the government’s commitment of sustaining the operations of the GBC.
Options for govt
With the strategic investor exiting the scene, the government, acting through GIADEC, which owns the remaining 20 per cent shares in the GBC, has the right of first refusal per the law and the shareholding structure.
This means Bosai Minerals Group must give GAIDEC the first opportunity to purchase its shares. GAIDEC can exercise this right and buy the shares to become the sole shareholder of the GBC or it could decline this right and allow Bosai Minerals Group to look for other investors to purchase its stake.
Mr Fang told the media that Bosai Minerals Group made its intention to pack out to the government on June 30, this year, and the two sides agreed to a two-month period for the government to decide on the way forward.
“The two months will end on August 30, this year. So we are waiting for the government,” he said.