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My reading of Ghanaian newspapers this morning clearly suggests that the Ghanaian media is once again up to its dirty game of deliberately lying and twisting facts in the service of neo-colonialism and a government which cannot lay claim to working for the interest of the people.

The screaming front page headline of one of the newspapers read “More Support For Ewoyaa Lithium Mining Lease” and it carried the photograph of Mr Fui Tsikata, a distinguished lawyer and political activist of enviable repute.

On reading the report it turned out to be a statement jointly authored by Mr Tsikata and a gentleman called Kofi Ansah, who used to be the boss of Ghana’s Mineral Commission and can be presumed to be an expert on the subject.
A reading of the statement however does not suggest in any way that these two gentlemen have declared support for the Ewoyaa Lithium Mining Lease. Indeed, they express serious reservations about the deal and make suggestions for its improvement. They also provide a justification for the reservations of many Civil Society Organisations on the Lease Agreement.

The very first paragraph of the statement reads “Given the state of governance in our country and the long-held conviction that the country has not had enough benefits from mining, it is understandable that there is suspicion about a significant transaction such as the grant of a Lithium Mining Lease to a subsidiary of an Australian-listed mining company whose significant US shareholder will buy half of the product of the mine and send it to its US plant for processing. This is especially so when the first time potentially affected communities and other significant stakeholders learn about the transaction in a manner which conveys the impression of a fait accompli.”

According to the two gentlemen “the task however, is to assess the terms of the transaction in clear-headed fashion and determine whether it should be rejected entirely or improved in any particular way.

“After considering two areas in which we think improvements should be made to the terms of the transaction, we will address three widely publicised criticisms which are patently wrong, in our view.”
How does this translate into support for this lease agreement which some have said is inimical to the interest of the people of Ghana?

In any case what are the important things to consider at this stage? Is it the celebrities’ status of the various lawyers and the experts who are commenting on the agreement? The cost-benefit analysis of the exploitation of Ghana’s Lithium resources? The views of the real owners of the resource – the people of Ghana? or what?

For me one of the most important considerations ought to be the fact that lithium is a non-renewable resource, which means that once taken out of the soil, it cannot be replanted or replaced. Simply put if it is exploited for sale now, it is gone forever.

This fact ought to be considered alongside another fact which is that lithium is important in the drive towards the use of renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, sea waves etc. As a key component in the manufacture of batteries needed for storage of the power produced from renewable sources, lithium will become most important pretty soon.

Should we dig it all out for sale now and make some dollars or we should keep it in the ground until we are ready to mine it for our own energy requirements?
What plans does Ghana have for moving away from fossil fuels and how does our lithium deposit fit into that plan?

Interestingly some of the so-called or self-acclaimed experts are busily basing their positions on some very strange and completely irrelevant calculations. They, like the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources say that the company which will be granted the lease to mine our lithium will pay us 10 percent royalty and that is unprecedented.

These self-acclaimed experts should find out from Niger what these percentages really mean and to their horror, they will discover that the West African country earned less when France agreed to increase the royalty it paid for Uranium from 5 percent to 12.5 percent. The trick is obviously not in the percentages paid as royalties.

In any case, can there ever be a good reason why we should always ask foreign multi-national corporations to dig out our natural resources, take them away and give us something small for our troubles.

For me the most important point in all of these conversations is that the lithium we have discovered is not for the experts and government officials who appear desperate to auction it. It is for all the people of Ghana including the illiterate, young people, women, and working people and the people of Ghana through their elected representatives ought to have a final say.

There can be no rush in this because the lithium is not going anywhere. It will be in our soils until we make sensible decisions.

22 thoughts on “LITHIUM AGREEMENT; THE LIES AND TWISTS By Abena Osegu Boateng

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