The Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia North, Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah has advised government to tread cautiously with its quest to stop illegal mining in the country.
He explained that if care was not taken, such outright ban would lead to serious unemployment issues.
Mr Amankwah was sharing his view about the effect of illegal mining on the environment and the need to stop it in an interview with Graphic Online in Kumasi.
He said there must be a clear distinction between illegal mining and artisanal or small scale mining and those doing the right thing must be used as role models for others to emulate.
He expressed worry about the growing misconception among the populace about the activities of small scale miners or artisanal mining which was legal and regularised as compared to the activities of illegal mining popularly called ‘galamsey’.
According to the MP, most of the artisanal miners usually submit a reclamation plan after which they would be given legal documents to proceed to mine and added that some of them are doing well.
Mr Amankwah cautioned that “we don’t have to throw away the baby with the bath water.”
He said the sector has created lots of jobs for many unemployed people particularly in the rural areas and any move to abolish the system would lead to untold hardship to the people.
Mr Amankwah noted that inasmuch as the illegal mining was bad and causing damage to the environment, care must be taken so that “we don’t lampoon all of them together and describe them as illegal miners and clamp down on their activities.”
He called for sensitization of the public particularly those in the industry on the dangers and effects of their activities on the environment and the need to keep and adhere to the laid down procedures of land reclamation after mining.
“As a matter of urgency and necessity, we should organise stakeholders’ forum to see how best we can curb this menace,” he suggested.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Peter John Amewu this week gave the illegal miners a three-week ultimatum to stop their activities or be prepared to face the full rigours of the law.
He said “this time round, we will not take things lightly because we believe that China and India are the sources of funding for these illegal miners; so we are dealing with the root cause of the menace.