The Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) in line with its mineral investment diversification strategy is positioning to invest in the industrial salt sector.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of MIIF, Mr Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng, salt is set to become one of Ghana’s major foreign exchange earners by 2026 and a top industrial earner by 2030 if the resuscitation plan of the Ada Songhor Salt project follows through as planned.
This follows the plan of the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) to strategically focus on the sector.
“The plan to boost salt production and the development of its allied value chain should yield about $ 2 billion to the Ghanaian economy beginning 2027, with the potential to create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the next five years from just the Songhor Salt pans alone” Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng said after a one day working visit to the site.
He was optimistic that the planned focus on the mineral would generate new economy vibrancy for the areas known for salt production such as Ada, Sege, Keta, Ningo and Winneba.
Mr Koranteng intimated that MIIF was developing a classification strategy for high priority minerals such as lithium, limestone, granite, diamond and salt.
“Classifying Salt as a high priority mineral means we will invest in the mineral value chain development, we will de-risk its funding methods and help with the acquisition of relevant technology that revitalises the industry,” Mr Koranteng said.
Ghana and Senegal are the only countries in West Africa with the potential for large-scale industrial production of salt.
He decried the fact that Nigeria, with a demand in excess of 1.5 million metric tons (MT) per annum, imported 80 percent of its industrial salt needs from Brazil while the Songhor salt pans alone had the capacity to produce over one million tons at just 60 percent capacity.
Salt has at least 14,000 uses, with the chemical industry most reliant on the mineral to produce various chemicals. It is frequently used as a raw material in the production of chlorine, caustic soda, and soda ash.
Aside from these, industrial salt was used to make sodium sulphate, sodium carbonate, hydrochloric acid, sodium bicarbonate, liquid sodium, metallic sodium, chlorine, and sodium nitrate. Salt was also used for detergents, de-icing, textiles, fertilisers and was also used heavily in oil and gas processing.
The worldwide market for salt was valued at circa $28.5 Billion in 2020, with 270 million metric tons (MT) of salt produced that year. The market was projected to grow to $36 Billion in 2026, with China controlling 22.48 percent of the world’s production.
Africa’s leading salt producing countries are Egypt, Tunisia, Namibia, Morocco and South Africa. Egypt produced 1.75 million MT of salt while Tunisia produced 1.6 million MT of salt. The total amount of salt produced in Ghana has remained relatively flat since 2013 at about 250,000 MT.
The Ada Songhor Pans, a 41,000-acre salt project, is currently being resuscitated by Electrochem, a fully owned Ghanaian company.
The Ada Songhor Project in terms of acreage is the largest in Africa. It has been lying dormant as an industrial salt producing area since 1982, but has the potential to produce more than 1.75 million MT and to be the largest salt producing area in Africa.
The resuscitation project by Electrochem, which started in late 2016 with an initial production starting in early 2021, has led to the full restoration of the Songhor lagoon which had dried out for eight years.
The current state has created employment for 2,800 people directly and indirectly, Electrochem has developed a community salt mining scheme for the local community, with Electrochem itself as the off taker.