Parliament has passed the Minerals and Mining ( Amendment ) Law, 2014. The object of the law is to amend the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
The amendments are two-fold, first to enable the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, to make regulations to prescribe a rate for royalty payments and the second is to provide for the confiscation of equipment used in illegal small scale mining.
With regard to the payment of royalties, the law amends section 25 of Act 703 to remove the fixed rate of five per cent in respect of royalty payment and provides that the payment has to be made to the Republic at the rate, and in a manner as prescribed. The payment of royalty is in respect of minerals obtained from mining operations.
Just like Act 703, the law criminalises illegal small scale mining, popularly known as galamsey, but unlike the old law, it criminalises mining by foreigners and Ghanaians without a permit.
Clause two of the new law criminalises the engagement of foreigners in small-scale mining operations and also makes it an offence for a Ghanaian to employ or engage a foreigner to undertake or participate in illegal small scale-mining activities.
Clause three of the law empowers the court to order the forfeiture to the state of any mineral extracted as a result of the offence, while clause four ensures strict liability for offences committed under the law.
In that regard, an accused person could be convicted even if it is proven that he or she did not knowingly commit the offence.
Offences and penalties
Under the new law, a person who sells or buys minerals without a licence granted or without valid authority commits an offence and is liable to a summary conviction to a fine of not more than 3,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or to both.
Currently, 100 penalty units are equivalent to GH¢1,200.
A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provisions of the law commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 30,000 penalty units and not more than 300,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years or both.
A Ghanaian who employs or engages a foreigner to illegally undertake or participate in small- mining scale in the country commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than 17,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years or to both.