Mining (mineral extraction) in Ghana has a long history and that history is a love-hate one. Mining has been regarded with suspicion and has been attacked for several reasons, chief among which is the often leveled charge that the adverse environmental and social effects of mining are hardly ever addressed and that mining activity has detrimental consequences on the health, lives and livelihood of mining communities. Another accusation is that mining has not made a positive impact on the economic fortunes of Ghana because fiscal terms are all too often poorly or improperly defined. The third charge is that transactions, contracts and decisions about mining undertakings are not transparent, with limited or no publi oversight. Given the problems which have beset Ghana's foremost income generating activity and the different dimensions and expectations that the discovery and exploitation of oil and gas presents, it is imperative that appropriate provisions are incorporated into the Constitution to remedy the problems.
The proposed review of the 1992 Constitution provides this opportunity. Proposed amendments relate to Articles 257, 268 and 269 of the 1992 Constitution and seek specifically to (a) broaden the remit of Article 257 to cover all extractive natural resources and not just minerals, (b) strengthen State ownership rights and the fiduciary duty of the State in the use of natural resources; (c) embed in the Constitution measures for transparency, accountability, equity, environmental protection, and public oversight in all transactions, contracts, and undertakings regarding the exploitation and management of natural resources and the revenues derived from them; and (d) suggest that provisions that may undermine the demands for transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources, be expunged from Articles 268 and 269. The proposed amendments signal Ghana's efforts to overcome the tragedy of its mining history.