Banning Small Scale Mining Not On The Table – Minister
Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, has indicated that government will not consider a suggestion from some quarters to ban small scale mining in the country at this time,in spite of the damaging effects of illegal mining, popularly known as galamey.
He stated that, it will not be a novelty to go on that path, adding that, in the early years of the President Akufo-Addo administration, such a decision was taken in an attempt to streamline small-scale mining activities and also restore destroyed water bodies.
The Damongo legislator warned, it will not be prudent to take certain decisions at this time, that may go a long way to hurt the sector.
“You don’t want a situation where you also roll out an enforcement regime that literally kills the sector completely, which will mean you’ll lose income which will jeopardize your economy,” he said.
Speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile last Saturday, September 17, monitored by The Anchor, Mr. Jinapor said the focus should also be on the revenue the sector brings to the national economy.
He explained that, one needs to be tactful in dealing with small scale mining in its entirety, so that its benefits are not lost in the discussions.
The suggestion to ban, came after claims by representatives from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Ghana Cocoa Board, on the programme, mentioned that, the negative effects of the menace is threatening the survival of all sectors that fall under activities of illegal mining.
Managing Director (MD) of GWCL, Dr. Clifford Braimah, Head of Corporate Affairs at COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, and other panel members, including researchers, had all decried the danger illegal mining is posing to the country’s forest reserves, water bodies and many others.
But reacting to the issues raised, Mr. Jinapor, who joined in at the tail end of the discussion, said small scale mining which breeds galamsey operation must be treated with tact.
According to him, despite the activities of illegal miners, licensed small scale miners contribute significantly to Ghana’s economy, hence a cautious approach must be employed in addressing the challenges plaguing the sector.
He disclosed that based on available statistics, small scale mining contributes 40% of Ghana’s local gold produce.
In view of this, he admonished that even though illegal mining has unfortunately crept in the small scale mining sector, efforts to eliminate the menace must be carried out in a manner that does not affect proceeds from the sector.
“A good deal of work has gone into this matter of small-scale mining; and we have been dealing with this matter from a two-pronged approach. From a reformative approach and the law enforcement approach; which is that, while you’re enforcing the law, you must also put in place a regime that makes that sector sustainable,”’ Mr. Jinapor noted.
He continued: “[Let’s] always remember that small scale mining contributes 40% of Ghana’s gold output. And the gold industry gives Ghana its highest foreign exchange earnings, and it’s the highest revenue mobilising sector when it comes to export.
“So there’s a link between small scale mining, gold output, our national economy, our currency, our foreign exchange status and all of that, so when you’re dealing with small scale mining, you have to deal with it tactfully.”
He stated that his outfit has taken note of all the suggestions on the issue, and will continue to work with stakeholders to address the challenges.
Mr. Jinapor reiterated that government has done a lot in making galamsey a thing of the past.
He indicated that over the period, a series of measures have been put in place to clamp down on illegal miners and bring their activities to a halt.
Noting the gains made, he expressed readiness to embrace all the suggestions to strengthen the fight against the canker.
“The numerous commentaries which I have followed about this age-old menace of illegal small-scale mining are all absolutely welcome. I think I need to make that point a little forcefully. They’re all absolutely welcome and the contribution and suggestions various people have made individually and collectively are all absolutely welcome,” he stressed.
He added: “A good deal of work has gone into this matter of small-scale mining; and we have been dealing with this matter from a two-pronged approach. From a reformative approach and law enforcement approach. They must go hand in hand.”
He stressed that, despite the illegalities within the sector, a cautious approach must be employed in addressing the said challenges.
On his part, the Ghana Water Company Limited MD, Dr. Clifford Braimah, advocated the involvement of the Water Resources Commission in the fight against illegal mining in he country.
According to him, this will strengthen the inter-agency efforts being employed to deal with the menace.
Mr. Braimah explained that, the Water Resources Commission is a critical agency, whose mandate cannot be ignored if the fight against ‘galamsey’ will succeed.
He however noted that the commission is currently under-resourced, hence the need for it to be retooled.
“I think that for us to be able to fight this menace, Water Resources Commission must be strengthened adequately to give them the necessary power to do what they have to do, and then resource them adequately,” he stressed.