Tackling illegal mining: 4,000 Excavators to be tracked this year
The Minerals Commission is to install tracking devices on 4,000 excavators and earthmoving equipment as part of measures to clamp down on illegal mining activities.
Currently, 75 excavators have been affixed with tracking devices and their activities being monitored from a control room at the commission.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, who was speaking at a meet-the-press series in Accra yesterday, said the devices would be installed later in the year.
He said the ultimate aim of the government was to ensure that no excavator was used to mine illegally or trespassed the concession it had been assigned to operate.
The commission set up the Mine Repository and Tracking Control Centre in December 2022 to serve as a situation room for the tracking and movement of excavators in mining concessions.
The centre also traces trucks carrying explosives, speed boats used by river wardens and quarries to ascertain the tonnes of haul each site carries out of the country.
The exercise is in accordance with the Minerals and Mining (Mineral Operations – Tracking of Earthmoving and Mining Equipment) Regulations, 2020 (L.I. 2404).
Mr Jinapor said after successfully tracking 75 excavators for the past three months, the commission was better placed to bring on board 4,000 excavators and earthmoving equipment before the end of the year.
He said the tracking of excavators had been identified as one of the most effective strategies to curb illegal mining and to reposition the small-scale mining sector as a sustainable source of livelihood for local people.
The minister said it was in line with that that the government reduced withholding tax on unprocessed gold by small-scale miners, which was introduced in 2015, from three per cent to 1.5 per cent.
"This has resulted in a massive increment in gold exports from small-scale mining from 3,429.91 kilogrammes (Kg) in 2021, to 22,158.25kg in 2022.
Mr Jinapor said that although measures rolled out by the government to fight galamsey had yielded some results, more work remained to be done to curb the menace.
On local content and participation, the minister said the commission had increased the items on the local procurement list of goods and services reserved for citizens from 29 to 50.
"We have also increased the provision of financial, insurance and reinsurance services reserved for citizens from 20 per cent to a minimum of 60 per cent," the minister added.
He said the provision of such goods and services by citizens would ensure the retention of $3 billion in the country annually.
The minister further said that discussions were ongoing with Rand Refinery of South Africa, a London Bullion Marketing Association (LBMA) referee, to secure LBMA certification to facilitate the export and trade of refined gold on the international market.
He added that the jewellery subsidiary of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) was able to produce gold tablets, engrave and plate jewellery "a major boost for their work".
"Going forward, the plan is to establish a Gold Souk, a market place for manufacturing and marketing of gold articles, here in the country," Mr Jinapor said.
Mr Jinapor also said the Geological Survey Authority (GGSA) had intensified limestone exploration activities in the Mamprusi West District to develop mines to feed the cement industry, adding that over 3,000 acres of land had been identified as suitable for clinker production.
Again, he said the Authority had identified and evaluated over 1,275 tonnes of clay resources at Assin Fosu and its environs in the Assin North and Central districts of the Central Region, suitable for the production of high quality assay crucibles, bricks, tiles and electrical porcelain.