By Ousman A Marong
The Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Hon. Fafa Sanyang has on Tuesday, refuted the news article published on Malagen Online Newspaper with a caption “Gov’t, GACH and Mining for Minerals: Where Are The $ Million”, at a press conference held at Petroleum House in Brusubi.
Minister Sanyang speaking to journalists, said the article published on the 13th June, was false and misleading.
The story on Malagen Newspaper stated that within 3-years of operations, the GACH Mining Company has exported more than sixteen thousand tons of heavy mineral sand, generating a conservative revenue estimate of US$2.4 million (approx. D124.9 million) less than 13 percent of the revenue has been paid to the government as royalties.
The story further went on to say that GACH Mining company has been operating without environmental clearance and, from a conservative estimate, owes a potential tax liability, of more than D2 Million (approx. US$40,000), having never paid tax since inception in 2017 and does not even keep a tax file with the tax authorities.
“Accurate information on the amount of royalty paid by GACH to the government of the Gambia has been given by the Minister through the National Assembly,” said Hon. Fafa Sanyang.
“GACH Company has the amount of US$ 649,001.04 as royalty to the state for the shipment of 15,386.45 metric tons of HMC. The amount paid to government represents 60 percent of the net profit after the deduction of operational costs (Mineral extraction, Transportation, Freight, Port handling charges, Labor, etc) incurred by the government,” he told the press.
Minister Sanyang has revealed that the HMC form is always processed in China for sale. He said the processed price of HMC indicated by Malagen is higher than the unprocessed price of HMC exported from the Gambia.
The Minister indicated that the payment of royalty for HMC is effected by the company upon receipt and processing of cargo, with the average shipping times from date of loading varying between 2-3 months.
“The tax payment is the responsibility of the licensee has a requirement in the terms and conditions of the licensee. However, it is imperative to clarify that tax is only liable on 40 percent shares of GACH and not the total sales revenue,” he stated.
He further stated that there has never been a ban on HMC mining in the country.
He added: “The stumbling block that prevented international Mining companies to invest in the exploration and mining of the Gambian HMC has been the small size of the deposit compared to other countries.”
The Petroleum Minister said the promotion of investment for the exploitation of the HMC has been the small size of the deposit compared to those in other countries. He said the promotion of investment for the exploitation of the HMC along the coastal area has been one of the activities of the Department since the conclusion of the evaluation of the remaining deposits.
“It is a fallacy to say that agricultural activities have been affected,” said Hon. Sanyang.
He said in a situation where such instance occurs his ministry would make sure that the licensee compensates the person affected.
“GACH was required to provide a bond of $30, 000 as a guarantee for the rehabilitation of the affected areas after mining operations. This rehabilitation will help provide more space for farming activities, which will benefit the communities,” he concluded.