Small-scale miners and the Media Coalition Against Galamsey have commended the government for lifting the ban on small-scale mining and rolling out robust reforms to sanitise the mining sector.
The government on Friday announced the lifting of the 22-month ban on small-scale mining, paving the way for eligible small-scale mining companies to return to work on Monday, December 17.
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who announced the lifting of the ban, said only companies that had their permits and licences validated, among other requirements, would be allowed to return to their concessions.
He maintained that while new reforms had been put in place to tighten the knot on illegal miners, previous arrangements, including the enforcement activities by Operation Vanguard, would still be in force.
The General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM), Mr Godwin Armah, said the lifting of the ban came as a huge relief to small-scale miners who had been thrown out of business for almost two years.
“Our members have been through hardship for the last 22 months of this ban, and our association spent about GH¢1 million to help check the activities of illegal miners.
“We want to commend the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) for diligently implementing the road map and coming up with these new reforms that will see our members who meet the requirements go back to their concessions,” he said.
Mr Armah said although the association had to raise red flags against the government for delaying the lifting of the ban, it was convinced that the new reforms were more sustainable and would help clear illegal miners from the system.
He said members of the association who had been cleared to go back to mining would be made to sign a code of good practice document to ensure that their operations did not violate mining regulations.
“We will start a self-regulation regime in support of the government’s efforts to clear all illegal miners so that we can do legitimate business,” he added.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic after the launch of the new mining reforms, the Convener of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, said the new move was a step in the right direction.
He, however, underscored the need for more work to be done if the war against illegal mining was to be won.
“At this stage, we can say that the reforms are good, especially, when those who have passed the vetting committee’s requirement can now go back to work. I am happy that the new reforms include the use of drones that are fitted with night vision lenses to track the illegal miners.
I want to urge small-scale miners who will be going back to their concessions to ensure that they become part of the team that will sustain the fight to eliminate the illegal miners,” he said.
Mr Ashigbey called on all stakeholders to put aside parochial interests and play active roles to curb the menace.
In particular, he asked politicians to stop looking at the galamsey menace from partisan angles, since its impact had dire consequences on all manner of persons in the country.
“We know that 2020 election is at the corner, but this is not the time to start playing politics with an issue that has dire consequences on all aspects of our national life and our very existence. We hope that the party in government and the opposition parties will not make this galamsey fight a partisan affair but a national issue,” he added.
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