Ghana is one of the world’s top-10 gold producers and the largest in Africa surpassing South Africa in 2018 which had held that spot for years. As such, the mining industry is a major economic driving force: it is the biggest single contributor to government revenues and a leading source of export earnings. Ghana’s mining industry contributes around 37% to the country’s total exports, 38.3% of Ghana’s total corporate tax earnings, 27.6% of government revenue, and 6% of GDP in 2011. Gold alone contributes up to 90% of the mineral exports in the country. The number of gold mining companies in Ghana amounts to more than 23. This makes mining companies’ gold exploration activities some of the busiest in the region. The sector employs 28,000 people in the large-scale mining industry whilst over 1,000,000 people are engaged in the small-scale gold, diamonds, sand winning, and quarry industries.
Beyond gold, Ghana has a wide range of minerals. It is a major producer of Manganese, Diamonds, and Bauxite. The country also has large deposits of natural gas, silver, salt, and petroleum.
A wave of investments in recent years has boosted production and improved cost efficiency in gold and manganese mining.
Meanwhile, the government has acted firmly to improve industry regulation, tackling long-term issues of illegal activity, known in Ghana as galamsey, and environmental damage, in addition to strengthening assaying capacity.
After a period of consolidation and reform, the Ghanaian mining industry is in a strong position for long-term growth. A firmer regulatory framework, the increasing formalization of small-scale mining, and more streamlined assaying should all benefit legitimate mining companies, as well as the government exchequer.
This growth, increased investments, firmer regulation, and more stringent environmental standards place an increasing demand on the sector to trend towards modernization, sustainability, upscaling, and upskilling.
This is largely in line with the increased challenges facing mining companies worldwide. There is a growing consensus on the need to shift modern mining to a more sustainable framework and to answer an ever-increasing public and regulatory demand to be ever more environmentally friendly.
Additional challenges faced by the mining companies involve the effects of the mine on the proximal communities, geological issues, skilled manpower, occupational health and safety, and geopolitical concerns.
Most experts agree that the way to ensure a long term sustainable future for mining is through mining innovation – there is a pressing need to implement new strategies and adopt new technologies that will create a smarter more sustainable mining practice that is well placed to address the above-mentioned challenges, as well as more efficiently capitalize on the ever-higher global demand for extracted commodities.
In Israel, mining not historically been a large-scale industry, aside from the ancient Timna valley mines that have been actively mined by humans since the era of King Solomon. However, Israel’s positioning as a center for advanced technology and innovation is well-known worldwide and is increasingly being acknowledged by the mining industry as an excellent source of potential solutions.
One of the new global trends in the mining industry is to move toward remote and autonomous mining. This includes remote vehicles that can be ‘driven’ from 100’s of miles away or even autonomous vehicles and equipment that can drive, operate, and ‘think’ for themselves.
There is also a rapidly growing push in the mining world toward Command, Control, Communication, and Computer intelligence (4CI).
These areas, AI, autonomous vehicles and drones, intelligent command and control, robotics, and operational hardware technologies are all areas where Israel is a global leader, innovator, and problem solver and can therefore offer many great technologies, solutions, and expertise to the mining industry.
Mining facilities require frequent inspection and maintenance to ensure safety and prevent failure. Oftentimes these requirements result in operational downtime, lost productivity, and reporting and monitoring accuracy difficulties. Among the Israeli technologies available in the sector, the use of automated and smart platforms for inspection and maintenance that are safer and more efficient stand out; integration solutions between sensors and actuators; drone systems; and data transfer systems from sensors to cloud databases are all highly relevant.
Another very significant pain point in mining is water use, which happens to be an area where Israel is a global leader.
Used at various critical points in the mining process- during the extraction, processing, and separation phases – the efficient use of water is, naturally, a primary concern for mining companies.
Additionally, many of the points of friction that arise between mining companies and regulators or local communities concern the effects of mining on local water resources. Furthermore, when mining below groundwater depth, mining companies need to remove water from mines, which creates a slew of environmental and efficiency challenges. Lastly, for environmental and compliance considerations, the mining sector is often heavily involved in the rehabilitation of abandoned mines and polluted water bodies, a process that entails the repeated removal and treatment of water.
Israel’s innovations in the realm of water technologies, management, and long-term planning, have made sustainable water consumption an established reality for the country, with Israel leading the world, by far, in water reclamation levels. Israel reclaims nearly 90% of its wastewater for agricultural and household use. Many of the solutions and technologies that Israel uses have highly relevant applications for the mining sector.
In summary, the rise in commodity prices, positions the mining sector to continue investing in the types of cutting-edge technologies and innovations that will on the one hand increase its production capacity, increase efficiency and profits while on the other hand lower costs and risks by enabling continued improvements in sustainability; ensuring compliance with increasingly stringent environmental regulations and high public scrutiny.
Innovative practices, cutting-edge technologies, and advanced water management will allow the mining sector to expand production and capitalize on rising demand, while increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability.
With Israel harnessing the country’s top research institutions, technological ingenuity, industrial know-how, and human capital, Israel has an outsized impact on key global industries, extending far beyond locally-based operations. Across the world miners using Israeli solutions are striking gold, and Ghana is certainly no exception – Israeli solutions and technologies are well placed to support the Ghanaian mining industry address its challenges and maximize its potential.
For more information on possible solutions and business opportunities please contact Kirk Amoah, our lead on the mining and water sectors.