The National Association of Small Scale Miners has expressed worry over the undue delay in processes they have to go through to obtain a license to operate their business.
The Association noted that a prospective miner had to go through six processes and that it took a year to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit.
They said the procedure was very frustrating and contributed to growing spate of illegal mining in the country.
Mr Godwin Armah, the Executive Secretary of the Association raised these concerns when he spoke during a panel discussion in Accra on the Ghana Journalists Association programme dubbed: “Business Advocate” on Ghana Television.
The programme is supported by BUSAC Fund, Denmark Embassy, United States Agency for International Development and the European Union.
Speaking on the topic: “Streamlining Small Scale Mining into the National Mining Policy Framework,” Mr Armah called for decentralization of the processes to facilitate their operations in an effective and efficient manner.
He noted that the situation whereby it was only the Minister in Charge of lands and Natural Resources who appended his signature for the license to be issued should be looked at since it led to a delay in their operations, and suggested further that the Regional Ministers should be allowed to sign on behalf of the Sector Minister.
The Executive Secretary expressed worry about the rapid increments of the EPA permit fees for the small scale mining sector, describing it as unrealistic. The fees had risen exorbitantly fromGHC750.00 to GHC9,600.00.
He said the Association had over 60, 000 members across the country, providing over 1 million jobs to people in the sector and the only supplier of raw gold to the jewellery industry.
He added that 35 per cent of the country’s gold came from the small scale mining sector and explained that their operations were recognized by law unlike the activities of ‘galamsey’ operators who acted illegally.
Mr Armah said there was the need to streamline their operations into the national mining policy framework to be part of decision-making and contribute effectively to the formulation of the policy.
He urged the security agencies to be proactive and arrest the illegal miners, since their activities affected the small-scale miners in terms of environmental pollution and degradation.
Mr Richard Kofi Afenu, Director of Policy and Planning at the Minerals Commission said their outfit was a regulatory body mandated to manage the utilization of the resources in the country.
He condemned the activities of illegal miners, calling on the appropriate authorities to effect the arrest of anybody found culpable to avoid any conflicts between the Association and the ‘galamsey’ operators.
Nii Adjetey Kofi Mensah, Executive Director of the Artisanal Mining Africa Network said the network was involved in natural resources and environmental governance advocacy, particularly the promotion of responsible and sustainable Small Scale Mining.
He said the industry was critical for the country’s development and called for a sustained advocacy in support of the sector for the growth of the economy. GNA