Ghana’s wholly-owned indigenous salt mining firm, Electrochem Ghana Limited, will begin commercial exports of salt this year, senior officials of the company have disclosed to the Daily Graphic.
Haven already done an initial export trail of about 650,000 metric tones to Spain last year, the company says it was upbeat on full commercial export this year. It hopes to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the huge demand for salt especially in the petro-chemical industry across the world to make a big statement.
The 41,000 acres of concession can produce over two million metric tones of salt for exports and employ directly 2,000 people at full capacity.
Since beginning operations three years ago after being granted a mining lease the company has ramped operations to bet come the biggest salt mining firm in West Africa and one of the biggest in Africa.
Already $88 million has been sunk into the operations of the company to bring up the salt mining to world-class standards, changing the entire landscape of the Ada Songor area which hitherto was near collapse.
The Ada Songor salt enclave has been in the scene of long litigations which has turned many an investor off. Residents and some “cartels” have prevented all government efforts aimed at developing this natural resources for the benefit of the people and the country at large.
However, an indigene and a development chief of the area, Daniel Nii Nshia McKorley, who is a businessman, founder, and Group Executive Chairman of McDan Group of Companies, has braved the storm to go ahead despite the many challenges and history of the area to revamp and reconstruct the concession to make it the biggest salt mining business in Ghana.
During a tour of the site, the Chief Operating Officer of Electrochem, Mr Bernard Tetteh, an indigene of the land, was full of praise for the visionary leadership of the founder and group executive chairman for pursuing the dream of making Ada the “Salt City of Ghana if not Africa”.
“The whole idea of the name Electrochem, as envisioned by the Group Executive Chairman, is to build linkages of the salt industry into many other chemicals that can be derived out of processes such as caustic soda,” he emphasized, adding that the development of the concession also includes an electrochemic university and a port to help easy transport of the salt.
The company has invested in machinery to pump sea water to the 10,000 acres of lagoon area which had prior to Electrochem involvement has dried up.
“Our process has ensured that the salt mined has a 99.9 per cent of concentrated sodium chloride, making the products of the highest quality in the world,” he stated.
The artisanal salt winning had rendered the see water from flowing freely to the lagoons. The dredging of the seaway has therefore brought back flower and forna which used to the case some decades ago.
Currently, about 90 million liters of seawater is pumped into the Ada Sea lagoon using 3 highly mechanized pumps.
According to Bernard, as part of the process to ensure sustainable livelihoods of the indegenes, Electrochem has front-loaded its social responsibility programs even before the company could lay a brick of stone to commence operations. This, according to the COO was contrary to what pertains in other mining concessions, where most companies would start making profits, out of which they undertake their CSR initiatives.
Among some of the initiatives include the building of community pans across the entire 41 acres of the concession. “The idea is to create 32 acres of community pans for each of the communities along our operation area”, the COO explained. Communities whose land were unsuitable for salt mining however, decides their development needs and the company readily provides the necessary support. These includes, public places of conveniences, water tanks, the grading and rehabilitation of old roads, school blocks among many other projects dotted across the entire concession and beyond.
These community pans have about 10 to 30 pans to enable the communities whose sole livelihoods depends on salt mining to continue their artisanal salt winning with a much improved brine, the main ingredient supplied by the company to the community pans.
Two members of the Nakormkope Community, Moses Damehngua and Benjamin Gidimatu Ahegber commended the efforts of Electrochem for community pan initiatives as it has enhanced their living conditions.
“Previously, we could mine only once in a year, when we are fortunate to have rain water fill the lagoon. With the Electrochem coming on board however, we are able to mine five times in the community pans as we get constant pumping of brine into our pans”, they said.
They expressed support for the compnay and praised the Group Executive Chairman for his foresight and vision to help the entire community.
Among some of the initiatives they mentioned, included; an astro turf football field, school buildings, scholarship for brilliant but needy students to complete their education.
Electrochem has also provided a revolving fund of GH¢3 million to support the market women to enable them expand their businesses within the district.
These and other initiatives have endured the company to majority members of the Ada community and has the full backing of the paramount chief of the area, other sub chiefs and opinion leaders.