OBEDIENT SMALL-SCALE MINERS TO BE AWARDED, STUBBORN ONES FOR JAIL
By: Gifty Arthur
Small-scale miners across the country, who have distinguished themselves through their operations as responsible law-abiding businessmen and women in the sector, are set to be awarded for their obedience and success.
The idea, an initiative of government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is meant to sanitize the mining industry, encourage others to mine responsibly and also make the sector more attractive for investors as well as stakeholders to join hands with government to promote the industry in Ghana.
Speaking at the launch of the award scheme, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor explained that, “while clamping down on illegal mining, there is the need for a conscious effort to also promote legal and responsible small-scale mining. This is the rationale behind the Responsible Small Scale Mining Awards”.
The 2022 Responsible Small-scale Mining Awards, which is the second edition was launched on Friday, September 9, 2022 by the sector Minister, Mr. Jinapor.
This year’s edition, which is few months away, according to the Minister, has been expanded to cover the different stakeholders of the sector.
The much-anticipated ceremony, slated for December 2022, will witness some seven selected individuals and organizations to grab awards such as: Best Female Small-Scale Miner, Best Male Small-Scale Miner, Best Small-Scale Miner in Environmental Stewardship.
The rest are; Best Exporter, Best Small-Scale Miner in Corporate Social Responsibility, Best Metropolitan, Municipal or District Chief Executive and Best Traditional Leader.
The awards scheme, initiated last year under the auspices of the Ministry in partnership with the Ghana Small Scale Mining Association, is designed to recognize and encourage responsible small scale mining operations in the country.
The maiden edition which was graced by several dignities including the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawunia and Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei Opare, had categories such as Best Small-Scale Miner, Most Promising Small Miner and the Best District Officer of the Minerals Commission.
The Best Small-Scale Miner for that event took home some 120 000 worth of mercury free gold Kacha and other awards.
On his part, General Secretary of the Ghana National Small Miners Association, Godwin Armarh said the award scheme together with other initiatives by government, show the importance the administration attaches to the sector.
He said this was seen in the personalities who attended the maiden event last year.
The General Secretary said the scheme will to some extent, change the negative perception about the sector. Mr Armah was grateful to government for issuing licenses to their members.
“This shows clearly the importance this government gives the small-scale mining sector and it contribution to national development and it is also going to help small scale miners work more sustainably.
When you hear small scale mining, most often the narrative is about negativity but with this award, it’s also going to change the negativity for people to understand that small scale mining, is something that is recognized under our laws so we are most grateful”, Mr Armarh said.
The group also acknowledged the initiatives and programmes by the Minister aimed at ensuring that the sector is sustained. He outlined some of them as the ones being spearheaded by the Minerals Commission and also the sector Minister’s decision to sign more licenses “which is going to help a lot of miners, to first start with the legal status for us to be able to work sustainably”.
On prospecting, Mr Armarh said even though permission has been granted for such, he pleaded that after data has been collected, there is transparency in the allocation of areas that have been prospected.
The Association also asked that government helps them fight illegal mining on the Brim River having adopted that water body together with U-MAT last year to ensure that they help reduce the turbidity level to the barest minimum by next year indicating the fight against galamsey is a shared responsibility.
Meanwhile, a Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker who togerher with his colleague deputy, Benito Owusu Bio, flanked Mr Jinapor, speaking to journalists after the launch explained why women have been singled out for the awards this.
He maintained that women are very much are into the sector and “they are very much responsible when it comes to responsible mining”.
According to Mr Duker, who is responsible for Mining, a jury has been put in place and they will determine the ‘greats’ to be awarded.
He was hopeful that private entities will come on board to sponsor some of the awards like they did with the maiden edition.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for the Tarkwa-Nsuaem constituency said the Ministry is committed in the fight against galamsey citing instances in the past where successes of the fight has led to other nations including South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, Liberia come to understudy Ghana’s case.
“I mean all over the world, they are realizing the efforts we are putting in place and I can tell you confidently that the turbidity level of Pra, is getting better than previously. We sometimes create a storm in a tea cup.
Obviously, I am not saying it is the best that is not what I want to see as a Ghanaian.
I want something better but for the efforts of this government, the situation would have been dire and I must be blunt on this.
I mean we can’t continue to create an atmosphere as if we are not doing anything and for that matter, we are throwing our hands in despair. We are doing our best in a way to control the system and we are in charge and we will make sure, those who are so determined not to listen or heed to the directives of government, will be brought to the law”, he insisted.