The Professor Sulemana Al-Hassan of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa has has appealed for support to build the capacity of Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) and Artisanal Small-Scale Miners.
He also advocated for the strengthening of the relationship between GNASSM and the UMaT and recommended that licensing should be effectively decentralised, easy and affordable to the ASMs.
Prof Al-Hassan made the appeal Accra during his presentation at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Roundtable on Illegal Mining (Galamsey).
The discussion dubbed “The Galamsey Menace in Ghana: The Way Forward”, was chaired by Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area.
It was attended by stakeholders in the mining industry, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic community, civil society organisations, academia and the public.
The other panel member was Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, Convener, Media Coalition Against Galamsey.
Prof Al-Hassan said traditional authority’s involvement should be key; stating that “chiefs, traditional and opinion leaders should be indispensable signatories to licensing for ASM. Certainly, this should also go with certain benefits.”
He said District Chief Executives in whose areas of jurisdiction was found “galamseying” or illegal mining should be held jointly responsible and prosecuted, and should be part of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
He also recommended that the Government should identify and fund exploration activities on lands for small-scale mining which would benefit both the government and the miners and attract illegal miners to regularize their operations.
He noted that the Government should properly explore, at its own cost (such as from the Mineral Development Fund), any land before parceling it out to ASMs.
Prof Al-Hassan said financial institutions should be motivated to provide financial and other logistical support to ASMs under very moderate terms and effective recovery scheme since ASMs may be fugitive and elusive.
With regards to the benefits of ASMs, Prof Al-Hassan said it creates employment; adding that it was estimated that over one million people were directly involved in small scale mining in Ghana.
He said it generates the highly needed foreign exchange, and internal revenue; “ASM contributed 34.3 per (1.49 million ounces) of total gold production in 2014, and 33.90 per cent (1.44 million ounces in 2013).
“It is worthy to note that in 1989, Small-Scale Mining (SSM) contributed two per cent of the total gold production,” he said.
He said the ASM produces raw materials for local industries and maintains cultural heritage (gold, bauxite, kaolin).
He noted that the ASM stimulates local economic growth and reduces/reverses rural urban migration.
He said the direct smelting technology should be intensely promoted by government and eventually made compulsory eventually, which was in line with the Minamata Convention by 2020.
On the criteria for acceptable alternative to mercury amalgamation, Prof Al-Hassan mentioned effective, easier, quicker, cheaper, suitable for processing small batches of concentrate and visible-the miners can see their products throughout the whole process.