The Minerals Commission (MC) in collaboration with the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) at Tarkwa in the Western Region has embarked on a training programme, designed to equip the various metropolitan, municipal and district mining committees (MMDMCs), with the capacity to monitor and manage small-scale mining activities across the country.
The three week training will also encourage the committees to control, explain policies of the commission to people in mining communities and strictly enforce regulations governing small-scale mining operations at the local level.
The committees, which have been established under the MC Act, to deal with the wanton destruction of the environment perpetrated by illegal mining operations (galamsey), are made up of traditional authorities, officers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and staff of the MC.
Others are assembly members as well as representatives of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM), with the metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) as chairpersons.
The programme is being funded by the World Bank under the Natural Resource and Environmental Governance Technical Assistance (NREGTA) programme of the MC.
Speaking at the training of the first batch of the committee members drawn from across the country at UMaT, Mr Richard Kofi Afenu, the Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the MC indicated that, the committees had been charged with the responsibility to see to legal and illegal mining operations in the country.
He explained that members of the commission could not sit in Accra to deal with mining issues, which were causing a lot of damage to the environment, hence the need to establish such committees, charged under the Act to manage mining activities at the local level.
Mr Afenu observed that mining per se was not a menace since it contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the country, however, ‘‘People have resorted to all forms of operations which are detrimental to our very existence.’’
Clean water bodies/law
The Director recalled that in time past ‘‘We could boast of clean water bodies such as Rivers Pra, Densu, Offin, Ankobra and many others but now they are all under threat due to illegal mining activities. We need to act now so as to forestall the looming dangers.’’
‘‘Collectively, we have to protect our environment because this is the only country we have and nowhere else to live in. it is sad that even people are coming from far and near to engage in illegal mining operations, seeing Ghana as fertile place to do all manner of business,’’ he stressed.
Mr Afenu indicated that the laws are there to apply and so the committees had the responsibility to cause the arrest of those who flouted them and hand them over to the enforcement agencies to crack the whip.
The Pro Vice Chancellor of UMaT, Prof Sule Al-Hassan noted that the training programme would technically equip the participants to be more informed to deal properly with small-scale mining issues.
He explained that small scale mining activity in itself was not a bad thing and so people should do proper research and apply for the necessary licenses before engaging in the business so that it became beneficial to the economy at large.