The President of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners, Evangelist Collins Osei Kusi, has called on the government to lift the ban on small-scale mining, since the continued moratorium is negatively affecting the businesses of the miners.
Contributing to a roundtable discussion on the place and role of artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana’s economy and society in Accra last Tuesday, January 23, 2017, Evangelist Kusi emphasised that the continued stay of the association’s members at home amounted to an infringement on their right to work.
He said the right thing to do was to punish those infringing the laws, and not to punish all because of infractions by a few.
The roundtable discussion was organised by the Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Africa) with the support of STAR-Ghana to start a conversation around sustainable practices in small-scale and artisanal mining practices in the country.
The discussion also centred around the mining of salt in Ghana and the challenges facing women engaged in salt mining at Ada and Keta.
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Evangelist Kusi wondered if all large-scale mining companies were carrying out their operations in the right manner, adding,“ What happens to them when they pollute the environment and flout the laws?
The General Secretary of the association, Mr Godwin Armarh, in his intervention, said the continued ban had also affected allied sectors.
“Go to Suame now, where we fabricated and mended the tools we use. The ban on our operations has also affected them and they are having no work to do,” he said.
The President of the Federation of Ghana Goldsmith and Jewellers Association, Mr Shallovern Srodah, corroborated the fact that the continued ban on the activities of small-scale and artisanal mining was affecting other sectors.
“Our association gets its main material from artisanal and small-scale miners. Now we have no materials to work with,” he said.
The Coordinator of the TWN-Africa, Dr Yao Graham, observed that while regional and local policies acknowledged the importance of artisanal and small-scale mining to the country’s socio-economic development, government action was contrary to such policies.
He said the “Operation Vanguard” was about the third militarised operation within the artisanal and small-scale mining sector that showed the government’s misunderstanding of the challenges in the sector.
Touching on the salt sector, Dr Graham indicated that the policies of the government showed its interest in parcelling off a communal resource to a foreign investor, to the detriment of the livelihoods of communities that had engaged in the winning of sand for centuries.
He expressed the hope that the conversation had started to re-orient the government’s interest towards policies that supported artisanal and small-scale mining in the country.