The Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) has signed a groundbreaking partnership agreement with the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) as part of its mandate to support the development of the entire mining value delivery system in Ghana.
The agreement, which was executed at the offices of MIIF on 16 August 2023, covers four principal areas.
These are the construction of a world-class technical training centre, which will also accommodate a modern gold jewellery-making and training centre, an undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship programme for women from mining communities, and an annual speaker series.
MIIF’s conception of the partnership
The agreement between MIIF and UMaT details support in the four key areas with a two-pronged objective.
This is the continuous transformation of the university into a centre of global excellence and a major source of quality local human capital to support the fast-expanding and sophisticated mining sector.
The chief executive officer of the Minerals Income Investment Fund, Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng, explained further that “the agreement underpins the beneficiation objective on which MIIF was established”.
Centres for technical excellence and jewellery training
The technical centre will be a major cog for advanced technical training as new minerals are continuously being discovered in Ghana and new methods of value extraction formulated. Such developments require constant development of skills to fit the trends.
Ghana needs technical capacity and quality human capital to ensure that value is created and retained in Ghana, Koranteng said.
“Real value in mining cannot be found in just taxes and royalties,” he declared. “The real benefit is found in the creation of value through value addition to the minerals; by having a significant equity stake across the entire value chain; by creating an industry on the back of the new local content policy, especially through the manufacturing of most of the inputs to be sourced locally.
“But, most importantly, we cannot support this transformation without the requisite set of skills or the human capital. This is why the technical support, the jewellery-making and training centre and scholarships with a bias towards engineering are so important.”
Ghana is the number one gold producer in Africa and well known for its high-grade gold. Unfortunately, the country’s gold craftsmanship and jewellery-making (albeit authentic) are still rudimentary and this has pushed Ghana out of a global jewellery market worth roughly $700 million annually.
According to Koranteng, Ghana can leverage on its cultural appeal and create a global jewellery market destination if it can hone such skills. The goal is to train as many jewellers as necessary to turn Ghana into a hub for jewellery-making. It is part of MIIF’s goal to see value addition to gold in the country instead of just exporting the raw material.
“The art of jewellery-making is dying in Ghana,” Koranteng said, “and there is an urgent need to train new jewellers that will further the credentials of the country as an attractive jewellery hub in Africa comparable to the United Arab Emirates and India, where an integrated jewellery chain exists from design to sales markets.”
Women in mining scholarship
The women in mining scholarship scheme will sponsor up to 50 women or girls a year for the next ten years from the start of the 2024 academic year. This programme will cover only brilliant girls or women from needy families in mining communities.
“The mining sector in Ghana carries a misconception of it being a man’s job, thereby depriving it of quality human resource as only one out of four women completes,” said Koranteng.
“The MIIF Women in Mining Programme will at each cycle train 200 women to attain degrees in both undergraduate and postgraduate mining engineering studies.
“We aim to demystify the notion that mining is a man’s activity, as well as train women to occupy managerial positions in the mines.”
Other details of the MIIF-UMaT collaborative agreement include sponsoring the MIIF Speaker Series.
This is a thought leadership event, created by the fund for the university, which will bring an industry leader in mining, finance or business to the doorstep of academia to share experience and knowledge from their field.
The MIIF-UMaT Speaker Series seeks to establish a relationship between industry and academia to finetune education for the world of work.
The Vice-Chancellor of UMaT, Richard Amankwah, described the MIIF-UMaT agreement as a game changer for the university.
“This is the most transformative thing to happen to our university since its inception some 30 years ago.
“As a vice-chancellor, I have never seen an institution which is as forward-thinking as the Minerals Income Investment Fund. Their support for UMaT is well thought through and hits the bull’s-eye.
“The University of Mines and Technology is a unique university in Africa. This support from MIIF will make us better in designing our education for the world of work,” Dr Amankwah said.
The chairman of the Minerals Income Investment Fund, Professor Douglas Boateng, said this first-of-its-kind sectoral-academic partnership supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4, 5, 8 and 9 as well as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 transformation framework.
“There are some immediate quantifiable benefits. However, the long-term human capital and societal impact can only be judged from 2027 and beyond,” he said. “In all successful economies, sectoral organisations constantly support forward-thinking academic institutions with meaningful funding and resources. The era for token gestures by sector organisations is over,” Professor Boateng declared.
“We hope that MIIF’s initiative will spur others to responsibly do their fair share in strengthening academic institutions in support of building the Ghana we all want.
“Whatever we do as MIIF is not for today – it is for generations after us – and we believe this partnership is geared towards securing the future wealth of Ghana,” Professor Boateng said.
MIIF is Ghana’s sovereign minerals fund, mandated by the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act 2018 (Act 978) as amended to maximise the value of dividends and royalties income accruing to the country in a beneficial, accountable and sustainable manner, as well as to monetise Ghana’s mineral wealth in a manner that will secure the country’s future wealth.
At present, MIIF receives royalties from the exploitation of at least ten minerals being mined in Ghana, including gold, manganese, limestone and diamonds. The Fund has an equity stake in Asante Gold Corporation, a Canadian company trading on the Canadian, Frankfurt and Ghana Stock Exchanges.
All of Asante Gold’s assets, including its Bibiani and Chirano gold mines, are domiciled in Ghana. The fund also recently invested in the lnjaro Venture Capital Trust Fund, targeting the value chain delivery process for Ghanaians in mine support services.
MIIF is at the closing stages of an equity investment into Atlantic Lithium, an Australian company which has discovered commercial quantities of lithium in Ewoyaa in the Central Region.