Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu has said that government is in the process of collaborating with small-scale miners in Ghana to intensify the fight against illegal mining.
According to the Lands Minister, it has become imperative to involve small-scale miners because they know more about the areas and will help the government achieve its objective to clamp down the menace once and for all. He added that as part of that effort, the ministry will fund some activities of the miners that will help the fight in the long run.
He explained that the galamsey fight has not made any significant progress although the operation vanguard soldiers are out there protecting the lands, however, they are not adequately resourced to handle the complexities of the situation.
“As I speak we have not been able to witness a significant change in terms of the decolorisation of these water bodies,” he told an Accra-based radio station stressing that he would not consider the fight a success until people can drink water from the river Ankobra without any problems.
He said one of the strategies the ministry has adopted which the miners had accepted and agreed to was to rope them into the more structured five-year Multilateral Mining Integration Project (MMIP) approach. He explained that under that concept there was going to be a mining intelligence unit and mining guards who through the use of drones, satellite imagery, and other tracking devices will be able to prevent illegal miners from destroying the environment.
However, the ministry’s biggest challenge is initiating an audit into the thousands of mining license granted to the small-scale miners during the last three months of the previous government administration. Nevertheless, he said under a working agreement with the miners, a committee with representatives from the ministry and the miners will work on the auditing process, noting that responsible mining practices will be taken into consideration.
“This is what the government is talking about. So not until we are able to put those practices check and balances that will enable us to go back to the responsible way.lifting of the ban immediately will be a problem. so these are some of the things that we agreed on….I have toured most of the mining sites and we have seen the trend over the period that the mining practices being adopted by this people are not in accordance with the terms and specification of the lease,” he maintained.
“This is a concern to the president.The president believes so much in our environment…anything that we will have to do must conform to the thinking of the president. A Ghanaian that voted for this party, our manifesto spelt it out and the president was part of the manifesto too. He sat down and drafted that aspect of the manifesto saying that the small-scale sector needs to be sanitised,” he said
He emphasised that although the small-scale mining sector was very important to the growth of the economy explaining that the contribution of small-scale mining to the country’s revenue was about 30 to 34% of Gross domestic product (GDP).
It, however, pales in comparison to the environmental damage it causes, adding that about 4.3 to 5 percent of the total land surface of Ghana has been destroyed by illegal mining which runs into billions of dollars.