Small scale miners in Ghana are threatening to hit the streets with a massive demonstration if government goes ahead to ban their activities in the country.
“Small scale miners are against the six month moratorium for us to stop work and they are planning to go on a demonstration. We the leaders are holding them on, but how long can we hold them on. So please, for God’s sake, that six month moratorium is not a healthy thing,” the President of the National Association of Small Scale Miners, Nii Adjetey Mensah said on Wednesday.
There have been complaints about the adverse effects of small scale illegal mining also known as galamsey on water bodies and the environment in general.Some analysts have hinted that Ghana may soon import water if galamsey is not stopped now.
For this reason however as well as a media campaign against galamsey, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu in April 2017 ceased further issuance of new licenses to small scale miners in a bid to deal with the rising menace in the country.
He also directed owners of excavators to remove such earth moving equipment from mining areas or have them destroyed by government.
But speaking at a stakeholder’s forum organized by civil society group, WACAM in collaboration with Citi FM and Tropenbos Ghana, Nii Adjetey lamented that such move by government will cripple their businesses.
He explained that some of their members have gone for loans to expand their businesses hence they can’t bare the impact if government slaps them with such moratorium.
“A lot of miners have taken loan from the banks and they have to pay the banks. The fuel they use, they have to pay the OMCs. In mining, before one excavator moves to your site, you have to pay the owners 10 to 15 days ahead. So supposing you pay this amount and government stops you from mining how can you recoup your money? There are some families who are working on regularized small scale mining, and they take their livelihood from there. If you stop it how are they going to live? We are saying that don’t throw the baby and bathwater away,” he added.
The President of the Small Scale Miners also explained that in a bid to purge themselves, the association has formed a task-force which has so far destroyed some equipment of those engaging in galamsey.
“The National Association of Small Scale Mining has set up task forces in the various regions. In the Western Region, we have taskforce in Prestea and Dunkwa, in the Eastern Region, we have some Enyinam. And they are destroying the boats the illegal miners are using on the water bodies. We are hoping that government will see our efforts to complement their work, but still they [government] are bent on issuing a six month moratorium. That is what we have a problem with,” he lamented.
The forum was held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra on Wednesday on the theme: “Mobilizing national efforts for responsible mining.”
It brought together stakeholders within the sector, government agencies, civil society organisations as well as the media to discuss the way forward for stopping the menace of irresponsible mining in the country.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana