Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, has warned chiefs and other traditional rulers in the Ashanti Region to stay off illegal small-scale mining in all its forms to avoid being sanctioned.
They should not condone or connive with any individual or organisation to perpetrate such an illegality given its devastating effects on the environment, he said.
“On my part, I have already warned my chiefs and elders against participation in such illegalities, and would not hesitate to strongly sanction any such infraction,” Otumfuo Osei Tutu said.
“Already, I have had reports of what is happening in Amansie and Fomena. I am investigating that to see what is happening.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, who was addressing the maiden Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining in Kumasi, stressed the critical role chiefs played in the protection and sustenance of the environment.
Given their sacred responsibilities towards preserving nature, he said traditional authorities had no moral right to be involved in acts that had the potential to decimate the ecology.
He said the need to actively involve traditional authorities in the national crusade to protecting the biodiversity and ecosystem had become imperative because “they continue to be the custodians of our communities across the country.”
“We should go beyond paying lip service to traditional authorities as the custodians of our communal land and seriously and actively engage them in this collective crusade.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu expressed worry over the current system where licensing for concessions were given before consulting traditional authorities and said it was disheartening and ought to be revised.
It would be most prudent to consult traditional authorities before such licenses were given out, he said, as they played no mean role in protecting those resources.
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, affirmed the Government’s resolve to be ruthless against those caught engaging in illegal small-scale mining.
“It is a national emergency, which calls for a national consensus,” the Minister said, and called for patriotic and non-partisan approach to addressing the menace.
Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, the Ashanti Regional Minister, warned of punitive measures against government officials in the Region who would engage in illegal small-scale mining.
“We cannot go against the policies of the President and interest of the people,” he stated.
The Dialogue was on the theme: “Sustainable Small-Scale Mining for National Development,” which brought together participants from the Ashanti, Bono-East, Bono and Ahafo regions.
They included Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, traditional authorities, Chief Executives of the Minerals, Lands, and Forestry commissions.
Others included representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organisations, and the Organised Small-Scale Mining companies and associations.
The Dialogue was to provide input into the national discourse on the regularisation of the small-scale mining sector through coordination of diverse views.
It was also to develop appropriate policy options with the overarching goal of improving the operation, regulation, management and good governance of the sector.