Government to tackle illegal mining through collaboration

Government is to tackle illegal mining activities (Galamsey) through collaboration, law enforcement and technological approach, Mr John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has announced.

He explained that these interventions would, however, require first identifying the challenges and the available opportunities in the mining sector.

He recounted that in 2014, a number of foreigners were arrested in various swoop and deported, however, the commitment to sustain these swoops to preserve and protect the environment had been lacking because such a measure was not sustainable.

“This is why the Ministry has come up with a concept of Multilateral Mining Integration Project (MMIP),” Mr Amewu stated in Accra during a Stakeholders Workshop on How to Control Illegal Mining Activities in Ghana.

“This Project will be planned and implemented between three to five years. A holistic approach to combat illegal mining relies on more than just militants and combat actions in mining communities; MMIP combines Legislations Enforcement Civil Integration and Technical Approach (LECITA) as a sustainable and structured but regimental conjoint concept which will encompass multi stakeholders,” the Minister stated.

Mr Amewu said the mining sector in Ghana was categorised into large and small scale; adding that the Small Scale Mining (SSM) sector was preserved for Ghanaians, while the Large Scale Mining (LSM) sector was opened for foreign participation.

“It is estimated that 25,000 and over 1.5 million people are engaged in the large scale and the small scale mining sectors respectively,” he said.

“One can only see that the SSM sector provides more jobs to people than the large scale mining sector. However, the LSM sector is more organised and, therefore, environmentally friendlier than the small scale mining especially illegal mining,” he said.

Mr Amewu said illegal SSM was seen carried out in forest reserves, water bodies, cocoa farms and LSM concessions and even around sensitive infrastructures like schools and railway lines.

He said the corresponding negative effects of this activities were deep exposed excavations filled with contaminated water, irresponsible dumping of sewage and solid waste, uncontrolled dust emissions, release of chemicals such as cyanide and mercury, acid mine drainage, river siltation and deforestation.

He noted that impacts of illegal mining included child labour, migration increased prostitution and HIV/AIDS infections, poor sanitation, conflicts and cultural adulterations, fatalities and injuries to human health and high school dropout.

Mr Amewu said the menace of illegal mining had assumed a dimension that posed a threat to national security and therefore, required a multi-stakeholder engagement to identify the various challenges and available opportunities for overcoming them.

He said various interventions in past by successive governments to address the Galamsey menace had been hampered by various challenges such as the lack of political will, inability to enforce laws and ownership of lands versus ownership of minerals.

Others were the spectrum of people involved, development of cold diplomatic relations with affected foreign nationals’ countries and necessary support from some state institutions and every citizen.

He said the government had the political will to enforce the appropriate measures to control illegal mining in the country.

Dr Toni Aubynn, the Chief Executive Officer, Minerals Commission, said it was high time government found a lasting solution to the issue of illegal mining in the country.

Mr Jacob Osei Yeboah, a mining consultant and an Independent Presidential Candidate in the 2016 general election, called for a second look at the issue of SSM; adding that there was the need to develop a system to reclaim all degraded mining areas.

Nana Ehunabobrim Prah Agyensaim VI, Paramount Chief of the Assin Owirenkyi Traditional Area, who chaired the event, explained that galamsey kind of mining was an illegality and should not be confused with small scale mining activities.

Mr Jiang Zhouteng, the Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana and Mr Andrew Barns, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana were among the dignitaries who attended the workshop.

Source: Ghana News Agency