Dr Toni Aubynn, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines has called on government to strengthen its resolve in tackling the nuisance of illegal miners.
He said illegal mining should no longer be considered “as business as usual” and that whiles he supported the participation of Ghanaians in the mining value chain, the illegality around a large number of their operations and the negative impact on the environment was totally unacceptable.
Dr Aubynn said this in an address read for him at the 2011 national mine safety celebration held at Etwebo in the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai District.
The event was jointly organized by the Chamber and the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission and was on the theme “Safe mining, yes we can”.
Dr Aubynn said the seeming inaction on the part of the authorities was emboldening the offenders to wreak more havoc on the environment, pollute water bodies with mercury and other dangerous chemicals like cyanide with careless abandon.
He said there was also the evidence of the growing involvement of some foreigners, especially the Chinese and Indians in the illicit mining by either providing support to the illegal miners or directly engaging in the activity.
Dr Aubynn appealed to the Immigration Service and other stakeholders to thoroughly investigate such illegal activities and help prevent its occurrence.
He said the Chamber was determined to ensure best practices and maintain high standards of safety and healthcare of employees and that it was conducting a study on occupational diseases prevailing in the mining industry so as to come out with appropriate measures to deal with them.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Mike Hammah, pledged the government’s resolve to pursue measures that would guarantee the highest levels of safety and health in the mining industry.
He said that given good housekeeping practices, adherence to safety management systems and procedures, mine accidents could be significantly reduced.
He said for the first quarter of the year, 53 accidents were reported in the industry and this compared favorably with the 62 recorded over the same period in 2010.
Mr John Seaward, General Manager of Chirano Gold Mine Limited, said they uphold safety with primary importance as one of the core values in “putting people first.”
“Getting our people home safely at the end of every shift is our top priority”, he added. GNA