The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mines, George Mireku Duker, has stated that the government is committed to create local champions in the small-scale mining sector.
He explained that the support for the local entrepreneurs to grow was premised on the conviction that they would graduate into large-scale miners, saying "Once we do that, we can retain most of mining proceeds in the country.”
The deputy minister who made this known said the initiative would be facilitated by the Minerals Commission.
Mr Duker was speaking at the inauguration of the Wassa Amenfi East Local Mining Committee (LMC) on March 17, 2022
He said some local banks had set aside funds to support the purchases of mining equipment for operators in the small-scale mining industry.
The initiative is an arrangement between the government and some banks to support local people with the needed capital to mine responsibly and stop involving foreigners in the small-scale mining (SSM) sector.
Mr Duker urged LMCs to help the Minerals Commission to regulate and regularise the small-scale mining sector in the metropolises, municipalities and districts in mining regions.
He said it was important for the committees to monitor the activities of operators of the community mining schemes (CMSs) and licensed small-scale mining concessions to bring sanity to the sector.
In particular, he urged the committees to work with other stakeholders in the mining communities to ensure that mining activities did not have a negative impact on water bodies.
"As I speak to you, we cannot say anything positive about our river bodies, and it is really worrying. We must take up the challenge to enforce systems that will control mining activities from destroying these rivers,” he added.
The deputy minister said the government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, would continue to work towards sanitising the SSM sector.
For instance, he said, the ministry had started procuring mercury-free machines to support responsible mining in the sector.
Additionally, he said, the government had procured speed boats to enhance surveillance on major river bodies.
Again, he said, the ministry had advanced processes to recruit river guards to protect water bodies from illegal miners.
He reiterated the fact that it was illegal for mining to be done in forest reserves and rivers because those areas had been designated as red zones.
"We cannot do this without your support, so I want to urge you to work with other stakeholders to get rivers cleared," he said.
For his part, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Amenfi East, Frederick Korankye, said the LMC in the area would collaborate with stakeholders to sanitise the SSM sector.
He also said the committee would work diligently to identify viable concessions for the CMSs to promote local participation in the SSM sector.
The MCE called for the needed support in terms of logistics for the LMC for it to perform that role.