The Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF) has revealed plans to support the development of the salt industry in Ghana with the Ada Songhor Lagoon as the utmost priority. This followed a working tour by the Board and Management of MIIF and officials of the Ghana Stock Exchange. The Ada Salt pans on the Songhor Lagoon have the potential to be the largest salt-producing area in sub-Saharan Africa. The CEO of MIIF revealed to reporters that, “MIIF is far advanced with plans to invest in the Ada Songhor salt project towards developing it to be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. Ultimately this investment seeks to ensure that Ghana benefits from the many uses of salt, especially as a core input to support the industrialization agenda of the Government of Ghana”.
The Ada Songhor pans which sit on some 41,000 acres straddling at least thirty-three (33) Ada Communities are larger in acreage than Walvis Bay of Namibia which is about 16,700 acres and is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. According to officials of Electrochem Ghana Limited which is the Ghanaian company developing the salt pans, the Songhor has the potential to produce more than 5 million MT at capacity with an estimated 650,000 metric tons (mt) of industrial salt in 2023 and circa 1.5 million MT over the next five years with a 99.99% purity.
MIIF’s Salt outlook and Investment
MIIF has declared salt as a priority mineral in Ghana in line with its investment strategy of generating downstream to upstream value from every single mineral. According to Professor Douglas Boateng, the Board Chairman of MIIF, “the Fund is targeting investments across the producing areas in the Greater Accra and Central regions of Ghana”.
The CEO of MIIF, Mr. Koranteng further stressed that “Salt is an infinite resource with over 14,000 uses. At full potential and with such expansive usage, salt in Ghana has the potential to earn circa $500 Million a year in foreign exchange with Nigeria and the sub-region as priority markets. Salt as a raw material covers the pharmaceuticals, food processing, oil and gas, food preservation, production of caustic soda, the textiles industry, mining, road maintenance, hospitals and hospitality sectors which all require high-grade salt to support the manufacturing of inputs or processing. This is the reason why MIIF is excited about this opportunity for Ghana and is currently working on a broad-based investment which would include a listing of the project on the Ghana Stock Exchange”. The scale of the Ada Songhor salt project also presents opportunities for two export jetties to facilitate export and other lake transport opportunities, create massive employment in the producing areas and substantially revitalize the local economies.
MIIF Investment and the intended Listing of Electrochem on the Ghana Stock Exchange
In accordance with MIIF’s investment strategy to ensure that, all major investments are listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange, the Chief Executive Officer of MIIF, Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng confirmed that Electrochem has agreed to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange as a condition to MIIF’s investment. Mr. Koranteng stated that “Investing in salt is part of our mineral diversification strategy in line with President Nana Akuffo Addo’s charge to MIIF, to ensure that we create Ghanaian business champions while at the same time creating opportunities along the value chain and on the capital markets for Ghanaians to directly have the chance to invest in such companies”.
The Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange Ms. Abena Amoah who is also a member of the Investment Advisory Committee ( IAC) of MIIF said; “ What I have come to see here, really warms my heart. A great company is underpinned by the quality of its asset. We can become Africa’s number one salt producer, the sea never dries, the technology exists to mine the salt, the market for salt is not in doubt and with some ringfencing and great risk management, the investment in Electrochem and its listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange will be a win-win for all Ghanaians.”
About Ada Songhor
Constructed in the 1970s, the Ada Songhor Salt Project by acreage is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. It has run into several challenges over the years including a lack of investment and was vested in the Government in 1992. Following a five-year investment endeavor that required garnering and courting community support, Electrochem Ghana Ltd finally obtained a long-term lease in 2021 to manage the salt pans and to quickly put a plan of development in place. The plan has seen a total investment of $80 Million so far which has gone into rehabilitating the pans which had become decrepit and overly silted and the restoration of the Songhor Lagoon which had dried up for eight years.
“All the work done from scratch has been with our technical partners, Serra Process of Spain. Their advice and expertise gleaned from years of experience as a major global player in Salt is responsible for the successes chalked on this project” says Dzigbordi Kwaku-Dosoo, the Business Consultant on the project for Electrochem.”. “We are excited about the Ada Songhor project because it has restored the balance between the business and ecology of the area. As a Ramsar site (wetland reserved for international environmental purposes), the birds have started coming from all over the world and on the economic front, more than 1500 young people have been employed on the mine, through a micro-credit facility developed by Electrochem, the women in the various communities have interest free loans for their businesses and fishing is back in full force on the lake,” Dzigbordi Kwaku-Dosoo said.
The current status of the Ada Songhor Salt Project
Electrochem has outlined four major steps for the development of the Salt pans in Ada. The First is the restoration of the lake and the pans which have been completed. The expansion of infrastructure and importation of evaporators are ongoing with the company currently at circa 12% production.
The construction of an industrial bay to support the logistics management and export which has been completed. This is now the largest in Africa.
The firm plans to also build a jetty to facilitate sea exports and has already obtained the permits for the project. Further to the above, Electrochem plans to construct a refinery to support the production of domestic consumption of salt or retail use.
The Chairman of Electrochem, Daniel Mckorley said “ We have invested our toil into this project but we recognize that we still have some way to go. We are going to be Africa’s number one producer of Salt both for industrial and domestic use. Our plan is to make the activities of Songhor Salt benefit the people of Ada and the people of Ghana. My philosophy is simple. If we cannot use the minerals God has given us to make our people wealthy, then we would have failed God completely”.
The Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) is Ghana’s minerals sovereign fund. MIIF was established pursuant to the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act, 2018 (Act 978) as amended to receive royalties payments from mineral production activities in Ghana and to manage the Government of Ghana’s equity interest in mining companies.
Source: Kofi Gyekye Tuffour