Mining laws must be in line with ECOWAS Directives – Forum

These issues were brought to the fore at a forum organised by Wacam in Accra to review the Mineral and Mining Act and to share with stakeholders the content of the sample mining bill.

Illegal mining involving Ghanaians and Chinese is ongoing at Obuasi
Illegal mining involving Ghanaians and Chinese is ongoing at Obuasi

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working for the rights of mining communities have intensified calls for reforms of Ghana’s mining laws to reflect the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) Directives on mining among other International Conventions.

illegal mining
illegal mining

The amended mining law, according to the CSOs, is still fraught with limitations and not strong enough to protect the environment as well as the human rights of people in the mining communities.

The CSOs observe that discussions on mining have been around revenues with little mention of negative effects on environment, loss of livelihoods, as well as human rights abuses associated with mineral exploitation.

According to them, most mining communities were virtually excluded in effective decision making on natural resource exploitation, a situation, they said, have led to a lot of conflicts.

“The conflicts have led to recorded brutalities meted out by security agencies against host mining communities, resulting in human rights violation.

These conflicts can be attributed to the gaps in the Minerals and Mining Act,2006 (Act 703) that protect mining investment interest in line with the concept of extractivism as against sovereign interest.”

To address the gaps in the current laws, the CSOs, led by Wacam and the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) have developed a sample mining bill which takes into account the tenets of international conventions of mining.

In particular, the sample mining bill has provisions on the ECOWAS Directives on Mining relative to Free Prior and Informed Consent Principle and Polluter Pays Principle , which would compel mining companies to respect the rights of mining communities and to improve the management of natural resources if government internalizes the provisions in the directives.

In an address, Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu- Koranteng, expressed dissatisfaction with the way the poor and most vulnerable, including indigenous communities, were often excluded from benefits that might be generated from extractive activities.

Mrs Owusu- Koranteng said such exclusion has come as a result of weak reforms which needed to be looked at critically, adding that “legal frameworks should be implemented and the gaps should be closed.” She advised duty bearers not to allow market mechanisms to solely dictate their actions.

Mr Augustine Niber, Executive Director of CEPIL, explained that the ECOWAS Directive on Mining was signed by the Government of Ghana in 2009 and was expected to have been incorporated into the country’s mining law in 2014 but that was not done.

Mr Niber said the fashioning of the sample bill was guided by International Human Rights instruments, concerns of the mining communities and other similarly pertinent issues.

Source-Mohammed Suleman/Public Agenda

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