Steel manufacturers in the country, about five of them, are unable to meet the 200,000 per annum tonnage of steel balls required by the mining industry, leading to huge importation of the ore-crushing balls.
The local manufacturers — mainly the Tema Steel Company — are able to provide only about 20,000 tonnes of the balls per annum, which mining companies use to grind ore for further processing.
The other steel companies are not keen on producing steel balls because they consider the margins to be low as compared to producing, say, iron rods.
M.J. Patel, a director at Tema Steel Company, told parliamentarians who visited selected companies in Tema earlier in the week that his company is expanding to produce an extra 20,000 tonnes of the steel balls by June/July next year.
This will still leave a huge gap, and according to Dr. Kwabena Donkor, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, local manufacturers must be able to do at least 100,000 tonnes of the balls in the short- to medium-term in order to aid retention of mining value in the country.
“This committee would like the Minerals Commission to organise a round-table for the steel industry and the mining companies, so that the top managers can discuss how to fill the gap. If you are able to meet even 100,000 tonnes you will employ a lot more Ghanaians; corporate tax, pay as you earn and all the other taxes will increase; and more importantly we will expand our industrial base,” Dr. Donkor said.
“Until we are able to internalise the value, mining will not be profitable for Ghana. We have been mining for over a hundred years and we have gained relatively very little from it. We believe the route to retaining value in the domestic economy is local content,” he added.