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Govt, CalBank in $25m deal for small-scale mining

The government and CalBank are close to sealing a $25 million deal to finance small-scale mining operations in the country.

The deal is part of arrangements being made by the government with financial institutions to bolster small-scale mining activities, including community mining.

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Mines, George Mireku Duker, who disclosed this, explained that the move would help eliminate the practice where some small-scale miners, as a result of financial challenges, sell their concessions to foreigners sometimes for a pittance.

He was speaking at a sensitisation workshop on regularisation of small-scale mining organised by the ministry for media editors in Accra yesterday.

Community schemes

Mr Duker said 16 community mining schemes had been established which were mining on a total land area of 2299.94 acres.

Additionally, he said, 85 district mining committees had been inaugurated in the Western, Western North, Ashanti, Eastern, North East, Upper East, Upper West and Savannah regions.

He said if well structured the scheme would cushion the economy and address unemployment.

Galamsey fight

Mr Duker said the fight against galamsey was a complex one but the government was determined, with the support of the people to bring it under control

He said the people in the galamsey business were nor ordinary people, adding that they were people, some of whom carried sophisticated weapons.

He said the government had procured five speed boats, which had been commissioned and placed under the care of the Ghana Navy.

In addition, the recruitment of river guards was ongoing , with the first 100 already passing out and getting ready for deployment on December 1, this year.

Responding to a question on the confiscated excavators, Mr Duker disclosed that the excavators had been handed over to the Ghana Police Service and that details would be made available to the media .

He welcomed inputs and expert views from the media on how to effectively communicate the strides made by the government in the galamsey war.

No ban on small-scale mining

Mr Duker also opposed calls for a ban on small-scale mining as a way to tackle illegal mining ( galamsey), saying it would do more harm than good to the country.

He explained that for a sector that contributed about 40 per cent of the country’s total gold produce and employed over one million Ghanaians, it had a huge role to play in economic development for which reason it was not prudent to ban it.

Recently there had been calls by a number of identifiable bodies including religious bodies and OccupyGhana for a temporary ban on all forms of small-scale mining.

But the deputy minister stated what was needed was to enforce regulations, which was what the government was doing to sanitise the water bodies and the environment.

He said aside from the numerous benefits of the small-scale mining industry to the country, the sector’s regulatory systems were considered one of the best in Africa, which had led to many countries seeking to learn from Ghana’s experience.

"Zambia and Sudan have come to emulate from us and currently, the South African High Commissioner is at the Ministry with the same purpose, to understudy Ghana’s small-scale mining sector," he added.

I’m not into galamsey

Mr Duker debunked allegations levelled against him as being neck-deep in the galamsey activities.

" I have never been a miner and I will never be. I have only studied and have a good knowledge of the subject matter and that should be on record," he stated.

Traceability project

Furthermore, he said the government through the World Bank and under the Ghana Land Restoration and Small Scale Mining project, had already commenced work on a traceability system.

The objective of the project, he said, was to trace the chain on custody of the precious mineral right from the mine to its final destination.

The traceability project is being carried out by the PMMC and the Minerals Commission.

Later, the Deputy Minister led the editors to the Minerals Commission's situational room where modern technological gadgets and software for the tracking of all earth-moving equipment and explosive machines will be commissioned next week.

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