The Minerals Commission, Ghana, is set to re-categorise the operation of small scale mining to sanitise the activities of operators.
Dr Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, who announced this, on Tuesday, said small scale mining would be categorised into artisanal mining, small scale mining, and medium scale mining, which would allow for some partnership between Ghanaians and licensed foreign operators.
“This will be a major game changer in the fight against illegal mining,” he said. “It will also allow for criminalisation of offenders of small scale mining.”
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum on streamlining Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) in Accra, Dr Aubynn also announced that the Mining Policy was before Parliament and expressed the hope that it would soon be passed to boost efforts at sanitizing the mining sector.
The theme for the forum was: “Boosting Artisanal and Small Scale Mining in Ghana”. It brought together state and non-state actors in their quest to attain a sustainable ASM industry in Ghana.
Dr Aubynn said small scale mining contributed about 1.4 million ounces of gold- representing 34 per cent of the total gold production in Ghana, in 2013, while one million people were directly involved in ASM.
He said since 2008, the total diamonds produced in Ghana had come from the operations of ASM, explaining, that 100 per cent of the country’s diamond was being produced by small scale miners.
He, however, said the activities of ASMs had been facing challenges due to the influx of some foreigners who connived with other locals like chiefs, landlords, and opinion leaders, to illegally engage in mining in remote areas.
He said local Ghanaian galamsey operators were also escalating the illegality, thereby causing many environmental issues.
The Commission, Dr Aubynn said, was carrying out intensified public education to encourage illegal miners to regularize while working at promoting small scale miners.
Nii Adjetey Kofi Mensah, Executive Director of the ASM-Africa Network (ASMAN), said the forum marked the beginning of a series of events, which would seek to explore alternative options of fighting the galamsey menace and to build the capacities of ASMs to do things right.
He, therefore, asked the government to collaborate with other stakeholders to adopt workable ASM models being practiced in countries like Tanzania, to help solve the galamsey menace in Ghana.
“I wish to reiterate our call for a more workable and humane approaches to dealing with the galamsey menace other than the use of militarized taskforce,” he said.
“For us at ASM-Africa Network, galamsey must be looked at from a causative angle instead of the effect. The menace is more of a poverty driven action, which require local and home grown solutions.”
Mr George Abradu-Otoo, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), expressed regret that many foreigners were now taking over the gold business to the detriment of the country.
He said some Indian and Chinese nationals were now exporting gold from Ghana without authorization from the PMMC, which was the sole company mandated by the laws to oversee the exportation of gold to other countries.
He, therefore, emphasized the need for collaboration to help weed out such unlawful acts and to ensure that the proper things were done.
He also said galamsey operators should be trained “to do things right, including teaching them on how to reclaim land for other useful purposes after their operation”. GNA