The new developers of the Ada Songhor Salt Project are seeking to boost salt production at the facility to one million metric tonnes annually by next year to make Ghana the leading producer of the commodity in West Africa.
Electrochem Ghana Limited — which was granted a 15-year mining lease by Parliament in October 2020 to explore the salt resource in the Songor Lagoon and surrounding communities — has also projected to produce two million metric tonnes of salt a year in the long term.
The Ada Songhor Salt Project produced 60,000 tonnes of salt last year, but the General Manager of Electrochem Ghana Limited, Mr David Cameron, said the company was already on track to produce over 200,000 tonnes by the end of 2021 after investing over $50 million into the project.
Ghana’s salt import
Ghana imported over 600,000 tonnes of high-quality industrial salt last year, and Mr Cameron said Electrochem was hoping to capitalise on local demand for the product, as well as the demand in Africa and the global space.
“We have taken over a failed operation; it was technically insolvent. It didn’t have enough money to pay itself. What Electrochem has done is that we have improved it and already we have produced about 40,000 tonnes in four months this year as compared to 60,000 for the whole of last year. We have still got quite a bit of the year to go,” Mr Cameron told the Daily Graphic last Friday during a tour of the facility by members of the Ada Traditional Council.
“In West Africa, only Ghana and Senegal can produce salt and Senegal doesn’t produce the high-quality sea salt that we produce here. They produce rock salt. In terms of demand (for salt), Ghana imported 650,000 tonnes of high-quality salt last year for industry use mainly, and so we are looking at attacking that market,” he said.
“Nigeria imported over a million tonnes of salt from Brazil. We are looking at attacking that market, and we have already had a lot of interest from Nigeria. Our main target is international companies that are procuring top quality salt that has a premium. We think some of the customers in Ghana and Nigeria won’t need the top-quality salt, but there’s a huge market for that,” Mr Cameron stressed.
He said the company had braced itself for a few difficult years because the salt was not yet at the quality required for the international market, but it was hopeful of recouping its investment and becoming profitable before the end of its 15-year lease.
At a durbar after taking members of the Ada Traditional Council, led by the Paramount Chief of Ada, Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III, on a tour of the facility, the Chairman of Electrochem Ghana Limited, Mr Daniel McKorley, disclosed that over 1,000 indigenes of Ada had already been employed in various capacities at the concession.
He further disclosed that “when the salt mine becomes optimally operational, it will create over 6,000 direct and indirect jobs.”
“What we are here for is for the youth of this community. We came here and within three months we have employed 1,000 youth who are working in the concession,” Mr McKorley said.
“We are looking at creating close to 6,000 jobs for the youth in this community between six months and a year,” he said.
Mr McKorley said the company, out of goodwill, was constructing special pans, which would be set aside for the locals to mine safely on their own without destroying the environment, as he addressed concerns that residents of communities around the Songor Lagoon would be deprived of the opportunity to mine for salt within Electrochem’s concession upon the arrival of the company.
He said when completed, the pans — to be operated by the communities around the lagoon — would produce over 500,000 of eight-kilogramme bags of salt each year in order to end the illegal and environmentally harmful mining of salt, known locally as Atsiakpo.
While expressing gratitude to the chiefs and people of Ada for supporting the project, Mr McKorley further gave an assurance that all communities located around the lagoon, including Bonikope, Avakpe, Toflokpo and Kposem, would benefit from the construction of the pans.
Nene Akuaku III said the development witnessed by the members of the council at the mine had exceeded their expectations and filled them with excitement, and pledged the support of the council for the project, urging the youth to work to ensure that it succeeded.
He also urged members of communities located around the lagoon, who may still have some concerns, to use dialogue to resolve those issues, saying the success of the mine would bring development to the area.