Religious leaders call for an immediate review of lithium deal

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Some religious leaders have called for urgent re-examination of Ghana’s lithium deal with Barari DV Limited to ensure that the country derives the “biggest share” from the exploitation of its lithium resource.

The leaders, representing various faith-based organisations at a dialogue convened by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra on Monday, demanded a shift from the payments of royalties for the exploitation of Ghana’s mineral resources to state ownership of the resource.

They argued that all mineral resources in Ghana belonged to the people and thus any form of agreement should be designed in a manner that would offer the State a larger stake for the benefit of the people.

The religious leaders include Dr Lawrence Tetteh, Economist and World Renowned Evangelist; The Most Reverend Dr Paul Kwabena Boafo, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, and Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu, spokesperson for the National Chief Imam.

The rest are: Alhaji Maulvi Bin Salih; Ameer and Missionary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Missions; Rev. Dr Cyril G.K. Fayose, General Secretary, Christian Council of Ghana, and Rev. Dr John Kpikpi, Founder, City of God Church.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Reources on 19th of October 2023, signed a lease agreement with Barari DV Limited, a subsidiary of Atlantic Lithium Limited for the mining of lithium in Ewoyaa in Mfantsiman Municipality of the Central Region.

The Agreement stipulates that the State will have 19 per cent Carried Interest with an option of scaling up to a minimum of 30 per cent by the end of the contract.

There is a 13 per cent royalty, 35 per cent corporate income tax, one per cent of the company’s revenue to be lodged in a Community Development Fund for the development of host communities and a requirement to establish a refinery to process Lithium locally before export.

However, following the signing of the Agreement, some civil society organisations and high profile personalities, including the IEA have raised red flags over the appropriateness of the deal.

At a meeting with Religious Leaders on Monday, the IEA maintained that the deal in its current state would not serve the interest of the country.

Madam Sophia Akuffo, a former Chief Justice, and Distinguished Scholar at the IEA, said the structure of the current deal indicated that the country would only derive value from the raw material and miss out on the real value along the processing value chain.

“It is not about the figures. It is about the model, the framework, and the principle to maximise the benefit from the natural resource. We believe that there is a best way and it is important to examine other ways,” she said.

Dr Tetteh expressed concern over the inability of the State to own its natural resources and rallied the religious leaders to form a “united front” to push for a better deal with the exploitation of the country’s lithium resource.

“We must come together and explore measures to stop this deal,” he said.

Most Rev. Dr Boafo said the country should earn the biggest share from its lithium resource and expressed worry that communities in mining areas remained poor after decades of mining in those areas.

“We cannot sit and allow our lithium resource to go down the drain. We should take the agreement and look at it critically,” he said.

Sheikh Aremeyaw called for things to be done differently in a manner that would impact the lives of Ghanaians.

“Ghana must gain the biggest advantage in the lithium deal,” he said.

Rev. Dr Fayose appealed to the institutions of State to always put the interest of Ghana first in the discharge of their duties.

At the meeting, the religious leaders agreed to petition the Presidency, Parliament, and other relevant bodies on the lithium deal and asked the IEA to prepare a resolution from the meeting.

Lithium – one of the top 10 most expensive minerals in the world – can be used for the manufacture of batteries, heat-resistant glass, ceramics, among other things.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), between 2017 and 2022, the global demand for lithium tripled due to a rise in demand in transition minerals to support the shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy in keeping with climate commitments.

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