The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of mining, Mr. George Mireku Duker, has called on large-scale mining companies in the country to cede part of their concessions to local communities to be used for community mining.
He said such a move would promote the small-scale mining sector reserved for Ghanaians and ensure that residents of mining communities benefit from the resource.
In making that call, the deputy minister urged local communities to use dialogue and negotiations with the large-scale miming entities rather than being apprehensive.
"This call is not an invitation to the local communities to besiege the large-scale mining companies for concessions. You need to negotiate with them through the local management committees (LMC) and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), and when they cede viable parts of their concessions to you, it can be used for community mining," he said.
Some members of the Wassa-East LMC
The Tarkwa-Nsuaem Member of Parliament (MP) made the call at the inauguration of the LMC for Wassa-East district in the Western Region on February 16.
The Wassa-East LMC which is chaired by the District Chief Executive (DCE) Of the area, Mr. Emmanuel Boakye, had representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission, chiefs and MMDAs.
MDF and LMCs
The LMC was inaugurated in accordance with the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Act, 2016 (Act 912) which has the mandate under Section 2 to provide financial resources for the direct benefit of mining communities, a holder of interest in land within mining communities, a traditional and local government authority within mining community and institutions responsible for the development of mining in Ghana.
Under Section Three of the Act, the MDF derives its funds from 20 per cent of mineral royalties received by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), money approved by Parliament, grants, donations, gifts and other voluntary contributions; money accruing from investment made by the MDF board.
Section Five of the Act provides that the proceeds from the Fund may be applied to relevant activities as may be determined by the board, to: "redress harmful effects of mining activities; promote local economic development; undertake minerals related research; support policy planning; evaluation and monitoring of the sector ministry; and undertake projects that aim at promoting the mining sector."
To ensure that the resources benefit local communities, the Act also provides for the establishment of Mining Community Development Schemes (MCDS) and LMCs for each mining community to facilitate socio-economic development of host communities.
Mr. Duker urged all stakeholders to support the government to put the mining industry on good footing.
In particular, he said the LMCs had an onerous task of ensuring that there was responsible, viable and safer mining environment in the communities.
He observed that with Ghana being a leading Gold producing country, it was important for the mineral to be harnessed and utilised in a sustainable manner.
"There should be development projects that people can show in the future. This is the reason why the President is committed that whatever we get from our mining industry must benefit the people," he said.
Streamline small-scale mining
Mr. Duker urged the committee to help streamline the small-scale mining sector and make it beneficial to the people of Ghana.
"Most large scale companies are not for Ghanaians and that is why small-scale mining has been reserved for Ghanaians to help build their capacity and transition to large scale through capacity building," he said.
He also urged the LMCs to strengthen the traceability regimes in mining communities to help the government to curb the menace of gold smuggling out of the country.
"Start monitoring gold that is produced in the various districts and where it is sold, especially small-scale mining concessionaires, "he said.
For his part, Mr. Boakye pledged to work hard to ensure that there was sanity in small-scale mining in the area.
He also assured the deputy minister that he would work to ensure that funds meant for local communities under the MDF were properly utilised.