Special task force deployed - To protect mining companies
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has deployed a special task force of police officers to protect large-scale mining companies from invasion by illegal miners.
The ministry has also contacted the ministries of National Security and Defence to deploy the military "on special occasions" to tackle illegal mining activities at legal mining concessions when the need arises.
The special task force will patrol large-scale mining concessions to prevent illegal miners from trespassing.
It will also crack down on persons who are currently threatening the operations of the large-scale companies.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor, made this known to the Daily Graphic in an interview last Wednesday.
"I have constituted a committee chaired by the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mines, George Mireku Duker, to lead the process of protecting the legal mining concessions," he added.
According to figures released by the Ghana Statistical Service this year, the mining sector was the country's second largest economic sector after retail trade at the end of 2022.
The sector's share of gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 4.5 per cent in 2021 to 7.6 per cent in 2022.
Also, in 2022, the producing mines returned $1.41 billion through the central bank and $2.73 billion through commercial banks.
The overall repatriated gross mineral revenue was $4.14 billion.
Yet, for some time now, mining companies in the country have expressed concern over the encroachment on their concessions by some armed thugs believed to be illegal miners.
AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi, Newmont Ghana, Golden Star Wassa, Perseus Mining and Gold Fields Ghana have all complained about the rising encroachment on their concessions by illegal miners.
The Ghana Chamber of Mines has raised similar concerns, with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the chamber, Dr Sulemanu Koney, calling on the government to intervene.
Delivering the keynote address at the Mining for Development Forum in Accra last Tuesday, Mr Jinapor assured the chamber that the government would go all out to protect their concessions.
He spoke on the theme: “Ensuring the security of operations in Ghana — the role of stakeholders".
In the interview with the Daily Graphic, the minister stressed that while the use of brute force to flush out recalcitrant illegal miners was non-negotiable, the large-scale mining companies needed to work with the government "to carry the mining communities along".
Explaining further, he said, the chamber needed to work with the government to implement sustainable interventions in mining areas to reduce the incidence of illegal mining.
For instance, he said, the Community Mining Scheme currently being implemented by the government was a viable solution to illegal mining, which the chamber must support for successful implementation.
Mr Jinapor stressed the need for large-scale mining companies to prioritise the retention of the mining value chain in communities to benefit the local people.
He also urged the mining companies to be more purposeful with their corporate social responsibility programmes in mining communities.
The minister assured the chamber that given the crucial role that the large-scale mining sector played in economic growth and overall national development, the government would go all out to address hindrances to their operations.
Mr Jinapor said in dealing with the illegalities in the legal mining concessions, the government would use both the enforcement and sustainable livelihood approaches.
"Any group which suggests that just by deploying law enforcement agencies will resolve issues of encroachment of large-scale enforcement is making a mistake.
The enforcement is absolutely important, and the principle of carrying the community along is also important,” he said.
The CEO of the chamber, Dr Koney, said the mining forum would afford the various stakeholders the opportunity to deliberate on the various means of ensuring the protection of concessions and contributing to the community and country's development.
Dr Koney called on all stakeholders in the large-scale mining sector to collaborate to deal with the challenges facing the sector.
He commended the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for its consistent efforts in seeking to address the teething challenges of the large-scale mining firms.