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PMMC Lies Exposed

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The Precious Minerals Marketing Company’s (PMMC) view that Ghana Standards Authority  (GSA) lacks the mandate to assay, value, and certify refined gold have been exposed as blatant lie.

It is common knowledge that Ghana has no specific mandatory hallmarking regulation. The general mandate given to the Ghana Standards Authority to oversee standards in the country is effectively the primary source of authority.

The NRCD 173 of 1973 empowers the GSA as the only national statutory body responsible for standardisation, conformity assessment and metrology. Indeed, the development of quality standards for goods and services in the country rests with the GSA. Quality guidelines for various mineral products fall within the ambit of GSA’s responsibility.

The law makes GSA the only third-party government conformity assessor.

In a bizarre, inexplicable, unpatriotic and anti-nationalistic release, the CEO of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), Dr. Kwadjo Opare-Hammond came out on Thursday November, 29, 2018, to discredit the President’s world-class achievement of fulfilling his manifesto pledge to ensure that Ghana’s precious minerals are exported in a refined and value-added manner. The statement by Dr. Opare-Hammond was out of place and labelling the Ghana Standards Authority’s inauguration of Ghana’s gold certification as bogus has sent shockwaves, and led well-meaning Ghanaians to question his real motive for such pronouncements.

For centuries, Ghana’s gold has been exported in its raw form resulting in lower overall revenues. Also, due to the lack of a rigorous, accredited, third-party weighing, testing and certification of Ghana’s gold, licensed gold exporters have hitherto been at the mercy of dealers and state agencies. Gold certification as outdoored by the Ghana Standards Authority provides third-party, independent assurance of the quality, quantity, and provenance (origin; life story) of the gold leading to confidence among both sellers and buyers.

This increased confidence in the gold business will protect consumers and ensure that the Government recoups the correct tax revenues from Ghana’s gold and precious mineral reserves. Why then will the PMMC, a marketing company, minimize all these, and attempt to take the shine off this sterling achievement of the ruling government which has explicitly pledged to “ensure that we move from exporting raw commodities to exporting value added products”?

To many insiders, the increasing cry by the PMMC over who has the final authority to certify Ghana’s gold for export is simply to disparage and undermine the historic feat achieved by the President’s administration. Hitherto, for centuries, Ghana lost significant revenue due to the country’s inability to refine and hallmark its gold prior to export.

The belief that hallmarking of gold cannot be undertaken by a local standards authority is also an indication of a misunderstanding of GSA’s role in defining and setting standards.  It also exposes PMMC’s lack of knowledge about the scheme and process of certification.

In addition to the GSA, Ghanaian companies are free to obtain certification from all registered certification bodies worldwide. Several Ghanaian companies have international certifications, an aspect based on the credibility of the certification body and the value it adds to the company. The PMMC is not a certification body and has no known and accepted scheme for certification. Industry players are equally bemused by PMMC’s stance. There really should be no dispute between the work of certification bodies and marketing companies.

In India, the hallmarking scheme launched in April 2000 is the responsibility of the Bureau of Indian Standards, a national body which has developed quality standards and guidelines for various gold alloys and gold solders among others.

While the Precious Minerals Marketing Corporation Law, 1989, PNDCL 219 tasked them with grading, assaying, valuing and processing minerals for players in the small-scale sector, these must be based on national standards. The GSA is the national standards body and all assaying (testing) and fitness assessment must be based on national standards. They must also be taken by independent organisations who are not involved in the buying and selling of the commodity in quest.

It was in recognition of the critical role of the GSA in maintaining standards that the Ghana Chamber of Mines in September 2017 signed an MOU with the Authority to test the quality of gold refined in the country and other mining inputs.

The move was to enhance and strengthen technical cooperation in standardisation, metrology, and conformity assessment and eliminate any doubts raised about the quality of gold and its inputs to and from Ghana.

It was also intended to ensure that Ghana retained the several by-products of gold during the refining process, which hitherto were lost to companies in South Africa and Europe.

Ghana last week Tuesday outdoored its first hallmarked gold bar produced and processed in the country.

Mr. Kwaku Asoma-Cheremeh, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources described the unveiling of the maiden Hallmarked Gold Bar as a dream come true for the country in its quest to refine gold and add value to the commodity.

“This special occasion to unveil locally refined and hallmarked gold is important for us as a nation because it fulfils our aspiration of adding value to precious minerals mined here in Ghana,” he said.

Also, it goes a long way to support the President’s policy to industrialize the country’s economy through value addition, the Minister said.

Mr. Asoma-Cheremeh emphasised that the export of the Hallmarked gold will help to correct discrepancies in the exported values of gold and end situations where Ghana reports one set of values, and other countries report a different set of values for the same gold.

This is because for the hallmarked gold, its purity, weight and its value cannot be disputed since there are standard inscriptions on the Gold Bar.

The hallmark also ensures that the gold meets standards for domestically produced articles, ensuring a level playing field for both Ghanaian manufacturers and importers alike. It also places liabilities on the certification body, in this case, the Ghana Standards Authority in the event of a dispute.

Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the guest of honour at the unveiling, emphasised the significance of the development.

He said it was a tragedy of history that Ghana, a top producer of gold, is not recognised in the global bullion market because of lack of certification standards.

Professor Alex Dodoo, Director-General Ghana Standards Authority said the Authority was pleased to be contributing to the national economy by certifying purified gold in Ghana.

He explained that certification of any product, including precious metals like gold, is an established conformity assessment activity that provides confidence to customers, regulators, industry and other interested parties – to the effect that the product conforms with specified requirements, including product performance, safety, interoperability, and sustainability.

He said the GSA had developed and or adopted over 10 national and international standards for gold, precious minerals and jewelry. Prof Dodoo said the GSA had instituted a Gold Hallmarking Scheme, the first of which is being outdoored, aligned with international criteria on hallmarking. He said the GSA plans to work with stakeholders to ensure that gold purified in Ghana was traceable and of known provenance.

“These are exciting times in Ghana and the GSA is pleased to be contributing its share towards a modernized and transformed Ghanaian economy towards a Ghana Beyond Aid,” Prof Dodoo added in an interview.

“We can now confidently say that we have a finished product which can be sold on the international bullion market as Ghana’s Hallmarked Gold,” Mr Sampson Nortey, Managing Director, Gold Coast Refinery said.

Refining the gold mined locally also provides the opportunity to improve export earnings and strong forward linkage to value addition enterprises such as goldsmiths, jewelry manufacturers, and medallion producers to have ready access to products and raw material for business without having to import those inputs.

Meanwhile, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is expected to meet soon with the management of PMMC and GSA to ostensibly resolve a rift between the two firms about the mandate to certify refined gold.

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