The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah has advised small scale miners to adopt ethical mining practices to save their trade.
He said as a Region that mines and produces gold among others, it must act as the focal point for ethical mining and mining-related activities.
He said as a critical area of livelihood, it behooved on the leadership of small-scale miners to produce realistic and integrated approach to tackle small scale mining activities otherwise known as galamsey.
According to Mr.Darko-Mensah, “we need a new way to stop ours from doing what is characterized as galamsey in a more purposeful way as a service than as policeman”.
The Western Regional Minister who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Takoradi, expressed these sentiments in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Takoradi adding that “we cannot fetish our own when they can easily be corrected with three washing wells or dams”.
He charged ” professionals in the industry to engage mining communities to educate them on the best mining practices to ensure that in whatever mining they are engaged in, they do the right thing always to save our lands and water bodies “and avoid the wrong thing of washing dirt into the rivers.
Mr .Darko-Mensah stressed the need to decentralize mining licenses to enable the District Assemblies take responsibility directly for reclamation and revenue collection and account up”.
The Western Regional Minister wondered why “the country allows foreigners to take 97 per cent of proceeds from our mining exploration and expect only 3 per cent to develop Tarkwa for example”.
He said until something was done about the 97 per cent of Ghana’s gold which remained in the hands of multi-national corporations, the youth would continue to find unrealistic alternatives to survive.
“We need to find new ways to ensure that more Ghanaians properly own the productive assets in the mining industry so that more of the 97% would accrue to indigenous Ghanaians”.
Mr.Darko-Mensah expressed the hope that if Ghana entered into realistic sharing agreements with gold mining companies, the government would be able to create more jobs and use the money accruing from the mining sector to pay workers.
The Regional Minister said mining in Ghana was a-seven-billion-dollar ($7 B) industry with direct government take of only 3 per cent yet employing over five million people directly and indirectly with 30 per cent of Ghana’s adult population of 17 million.
Mr.Darko-Mensah said in the face of addressing mining issues in Ghana, the President has met with all traditional and local government leaders to address the illegal mining issue that was damaging Ghana’s economy and reputation.
He said the government was much determined to sanitize the small-scale mining industry despite all obstacles to sustainably contribute to the nation’s socio-economic growth and preserve the nation’s abundant resources for today and posterity.
On steps taken to curtail galamsey activities in the country, Mr.Darko-Mensah indicated that the government would soon launch the situational room to remotely monitor and manage on-the-ground operations across the nation.
The move was expected to monitor activities of miners, track their equipment, and diligently relay to the Minerals Commission’s office.
That, he noted, would complement the deployment of river guards to permanently patrol river bodies like the Ankobra, Offin and Pra.
The Community Mining Scheme and the launch of the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) is being implemented to promote environmentally friendly mining practices and create more opportunities for the youth and appealed to the youth to register with the Assembly’s District Mining Committees to participate in mining programmes.
He said increasing Private Sector Participation (PSP) in the form of direct investment, exploration,financing,research, and technology transfer would help to make this a reality.
He said the mining industry had been shown successfully as a formidable sector for long term economic growth at the 2020 Ghana Gold Expo and the 2021 and 2022 Mining Week especially with a tougher regulatory framework and rising formalization.
To this end, the Bank of Ghana had started its responsible sourcing programme under its local Gold Buying Programme expected to enhance the formalization of the small-scale sector.
Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah charged the Small-Scale Miners Association (SSMA) to take up the responsibility of reclaiming degraded lands and replanting as a communal labour of their sector to save the business and the five million jobs in the sector.
The SSMA must ensure the transfer of reclamation bonds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the District Assemblies through the newly activated District Mining Committees to support the reclamation effort of the small-scale mining participants.
Mr Okyere Darko-Mensah also called for the provision of Mining Advisory Board by mining professionals especially the women miners to the small-scale mining industry as their community outreach programme especially in recirculating dam and wells so that mining tailing or washout did not end up as silt in river bodies especially for those engaged in alluvial mining.
He noted that encouraging more women into the mining sector would stem the bad practices in the industry.
The Western Regional Minister also called on the Association to ensure the complete decentralization of mining licensing and in-situ mobile licensing regime to help legalize and control more mining-related activities especially those that did not fall within the red zones other bodies and forest reserves.