Africa has been urged to restructure and regulate her artisanal and small-scale mining sector properly to yield maximum returns for the continent.
According to Professor Elvis Asare-Bediako, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), World Bank Report 2020 indicated nine million people on the continent depended on artisanal small-scale mining
He said Africa could yield huge, maximum and desirable resource benefits from mining, saying that would strengthen the continent to tackle her shortfall in development and to spur rapid socio-economic growth, if African Heads of States streamlined and regulated the sector in a more proactive manner.
Prof. Asare-Bediako gave the advice when he was addressing the opening session of a two-day transformational dialogue on small scale mining, underway at Fiapre, near Sunyani.
As part of its 10th anniversary celebration, the UENR is organising the dialogue to develop a more realistic, scientific and comprehensive approach to tackle emerging challenges confronting artisanal and small scale mining sectors in the country.
The dialogue is on the theme “Enhancing Multi-stakeholder Approaches towards Addressing Challenges with Artisanal and Small-scale Mining, and the Institutional Dynamics for Sustainable Practices in Ghana”.
It is being attended by the academia, Members of Parliament, civil society organisations and actors as well as artisanal and small-scale miners, traditional leaders and regulators in the mining sector.
Prof. Asare-Bediako explained artisanal and small-scale mining was a worldwide endeavour common in Asia and Africa, but regretted that while Asia yielded maximum benefits, Africa continued to bear the brunt of illegal mining, with wanton destruction of river bodies and forest resources.
Hence the need for the dialogue to help the country to streamline operations of the sector for Ghana to yield the desired benefits in the sector.
Mrs. Gifty Twum-Ampofo, a Deputy Minister of Education regretted that despite its devastating effects, successive governments had not been proactive enough to tackle illegal mining in the country.
She said God had blessed Ghana with all that it needed to be successful, and it remained imperative for the nation to manage her abundance natural resources for development.
Mrs. Twum-Ampofo said though it had huge potential to generate more direct and indirect jobs for the local people, devastating effects of illegal mining on the nation remained enormous, hence the need for concerted and decisive efforts to confront the menace.
She said the government was committed to tackling illegal mining, but added it was unfortunate that the government’s efforts in responding to and tackling operations of illegal miners in the country had been challenging.
Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the Chairperson of the Minerals Commission explained the Commission had undertaken several activities to help sanitize the small-scale mining sector, including the implementation of the Community Mining Scheme.
The Scheme, she explained, sought to identify, register, support and streamline the activities of illegal miners in local communities.
Mrs. Oteng-Gyasi said the Commission was also engaging commercial banks to provide funding support so that illegal miners could access and streamline their mining operations.
Earlier in a welcoming address, Prof Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah, the Governing Council Chair of the UENR noted despite its numerous benefits to the nation, mining communities remained the least developed with the local people bearing the brunt of illegal mining.
He expressed the hope that the dialogue would help outline realistic strategies to tackle illegal mining and promote sustainable mining.