Akufo-Addo outlines what will make him lift ban on galamsey

BY: Sebastian Syme & Nowellyn Agbeve
President Akufo-Addo addressing the sensitisation workshop on the elimination of illegal mining in Ghana for traditional and religious leaders as well as queen mothers in Accra on Monday
President Akufo-Addo addressing the sensitisation workshop on the elimination of illegal mining in Ghana for traditional and religious leaders as well as queen mothers in Accra on Monday

Angry small-scale miners who have been agitating for the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining will soon heave a sigh of relief following an assurance from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to lift the ban in the coming days.

The President gave the strongest indication yet that the government would soon make a clear statement setting out a comprehensive road map, comprising lifting the ban and dealing with the galamsey menace on a permanent basis.

Ban to be lifted

Opening a two-day sensitisation workshop on the elimination of illegal mining in Ghana for traditional and religious leaders and queen mothers in Accra Monday, President Akufo-Addo stated that the temporary ban on galamsey was supposed to be a measure to streamline the small-scale mining sector.

The workshop, organised by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, in collaboration with the Inter-ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, was also attended by ministers of state, some Members of Parliament, members of the Council of State and other dignitaries.

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The government imposed an initial six-month ban on small-scale mining in 2017. Since then, the ban had been extended on some occasions to enable the government to sanitise the sector.

However, the extension of the ban has incurred the wrath of small-scale miners who have, in the last few months, been agitating against the long imposition, saying that the action has brought untold hardships on them and their families.

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Road map

President Akufo-Addo, in announcing the government’s decision to lift the ban, said the road map would address, among others, issues of reforestation and reclamation of mine-affected areas, restoration of water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licences and associated permits and the establishment of a mercury pollution abatement project.

He said the comprehensive map would also include the implementation of alternative livelihood projects for illegal miners, the systematic control of the engagement of excavators in mining areas and the continued regularisation of the small-scale mining sector.

“When the ban is lifted, you will have the responsibility to preserve our lands, water bodies and environment. We all have a duty to say ‘no’ to galamsey for our own common survival and the survival of those who are to come after us,” the President told the traditional rulers.

Restoring sanity

He said the government set up the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, headed by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, as part of measures to deal with the problem of illegal mining.

The committee, he said, recommended an initial six-month ban on galamsey activities because they had caused extensive destruction to the environment and water bodies.

“The ban has since then been further extended, with directives from the government to the committee to carry out certain activities to restore sanity in gold mining activities, while Operation Vanguard was set in motion in July 2017 to deal with illegal mining,” he said.

Describing the intervention of Operation Vanguard as highly successful, President Akufo-Addo said as an additional measure towards containing illegal mining, the government put measures in place to train more than 600 miners at the University of Mines in Tarkwa in 2017 on proper mining methods.

An additional 1,500 were currently receiving training on responsible mining practices at the same university, he said.

The President said the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Mr Kofi Dzamesi, embarked on a nationwide tour to solicit the support of chiefs, queen mothers and other traditional opinion leaders in the fight against galamsey.

He added that there had been regular interactions between the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the Small-Scale Miners Association to craft a code of practice for small-scale mining operations and the formation of district mining committees against illegal mining with clearly defined terms of reference expected to address all issues concerning galamsey.

Foreigners causing harm

Earlier, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng had decried the manner in which many foreigners had found their way into the country, causing harm to the environment.

He said traditional authorities had a role to play in helping to safeguard the environment against galamsey activities.

The General Secretary of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Rev. Emmanuel Barigah, urged the government not to yield to the pressure from various quarters to lift the ban but find more strategic ways to fight illegal mining.

He also called on traditional authorities to take back those lands being used for illegal mining activities.

The Chief of Akyem Hemang, Osabarima Apori Atta, urged the President to be focused, fearless, bold and not backslide in his determination to fight illegal mining in Ghana.