The Ghana Chamber of Mines has urged government to urgently turn its attention to the perennial incidents of illegal miners invading concessions of large-scale mining companies, particularly during election years.
The situation has arisen again with the advent of illegal miners encroaching the bona fide concessions of large-scale mining companies.
In a release that was copied to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Mr Sulemanu Koney, said the country stood to lose heavily, if the activities of the illegal miners were allowed to fester ahead of the election in November 2016.
He said there was a clear and present danger to the environment and to Ghana’s economy as illegal miners fought large-scale mining companies for concessions the latter have obtained legally.
The CEO added that all the efforts instituted by the Minerals Commission complemented by that of the Chamber to attract investment into the minerals sector would come to naught, if government did not put in place security measures to prevent an imminent loss of investor confidence in the country, which comes with the risk of some companies cutting investments.
Over the years, mining companies have received support from the National Security Committee on Lands and Natural Resources in addressing the encroachment of their concessions by illegal miners.
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However, there are pockets of illegal miners that continue to encroach on the concessions of companies in spite of the interventions of the State.
This illegality deprives duly licensed companies of the opportunity to exploit the inherent mineral resources more safely and prudentially while it creates additional costs for the companies for rehabilitating the land so destroyed by the illegal miners.
Mr Koney also pointed out that the country earned next to nothing from the activities of these illegal miners.
“Only a few unscrupulous individuals benefit from it. It is no secret that the government loses significant amounts of fiscal revenue every year as a result of such illegal mining activities. Apart from projecting a bad image for the entire mining sector, the repercussions to the environment are ominous. If the activities of the illegal miners are not nipped in the bud it would undermine Ghana’s efforts to attract and sustain the much-needed investment in the mining industry,” he explained.
AngloGold Ashanti has as a result evacuated some of its employees for safety and security reasons. The illegal miners have remained on the mine. They have now worked their way to certain underground workings and are using explosives in the process.
The audaciousness of illegal miners in perpetrating the act despite the recently passed Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, which criminalises the act and ascribes punitive measures, is baffling to say the least.
The Chamber is, therefore, calling on the government to crack the whip on illegal mining and make it an unattractive venture for all who engage in it.
The Chamber, therefore, called on the government to return the Military to AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi to protect life and property on the mine in order to restore investor confidence and attract the necessary investment in the mining sector.