As part of commitment to deepening support for former illegal small scale gold miners, government has rolled out a number of enhanced alternative livelihood programmes and the community mining initiative across the country.
The move, which is being piloted across the country, is aimed at assisting government to adequately regulate the mining sector to ensure proper compliance with the mining laws and further provide economic empowerment activities to them.
Mr Kojo Opong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information said this at a News briefing in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region prior to the Fifth Regional Town Hall Meeting organised by his Ministry, on Monday.
â€śAs you recalled earlier, President Akufo-Addoâ€™s administration boldly took on the fight against illegal small scale mining in 2017 as part of its fight against irresponsible mining. It was aimed at curbing the negative impact of irresponsible mining on human lives and the environmentâ€ť, the Minister added.
Government placed a ban on illegal small scale mining two years ago and the initiative was being enforced by a joint operation team of the Ghana Police Service and the Military dubbed â€śOperation Vanguardâ€ť leading to the arrest of many Ghanaians and foreign nationals who were engaged in the illegal business.
Mr Nkrumah said government, after lifting the ban implemented numerous interventions to ensure responsible mining as well as provided alternative source of income generating activities through capacity building and development.
He said, â€śfor those who want to remain in mining, but want to do it legally, government has introduced the Community Mining Concept through which former illegal small scale miners are now being properly registered, trained, and given mining concession and this would help to properly track them to ensure responsible mining.â€ť
The Minister indicated that government in collaboration with the University of Mines had trained 4,500 former illegal small scale miners, out of which 3,500 were accredited and registered.
Mr Nkrumah explained that government planned to commission at least 50 mining concessions by the end of October, 2019, and added that President Akufo-Addo had commissioned a community mining site at Akrofuom District in the Ashanti Region, while a second community mining site was being prepared and a mining concession site at the Nzema area would soon commence.
â€śFor those who are not interested in continuing with the mining, the government has also rolled out a number of alternative livelihood programmes, which seek to train them to work in other economic sectors,â€ť and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources was providing support for people to go into oil palm farming.
To this regard, Mr Nkrumah noted, the sector Minister had supplied three million seedlings to 6,000 farmers in Eastern, Western and Ashanti Regions in the last two years and was expected to extend the support to additional 3,000 farmers in the new roll out that started this year.
â€śThe Ministry of Local Government is also training people in dressmaking, tailoring and dressmaking, welding and metal fabrication, plumbing and carpentry aiming at ensuring that they remain economically engaged as the battle against illegal mining remains in gear,â€ť the Minister said.