By Seibik Bugri
The Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Africa-Network (ASMAN) has called on political parties in the country particularly the two major political parties (National Democratic Congress & the New Patriotic Party) to make the development and growth of the Small Scale Mining Sector an issue of priority in their Manifesto?s in the upcoming 2016 general elections.
?This is because in the wake of our belief that not much commitment and attention seemed to have been given to the industry by current and previous governments, despite its enormous economic benefit to the nation?.
In a press statement issued and signed by Edward Kwasi Akuoko, Director of Policy & Research recently, ASMAN says ?it is our view that putting in place specific clauses in the Manifesto of political parties will give the sector and other stakeholders enough moral licenses to hold them to task and continuously benchmark to measure commitment to the industry?.
?Ghana?s ASM sector contributes 1.4 million ounces of gold representing 34% (more than a third of the country?s total annual gold output) and 100% total production for the diamond sector, yet the sector has not receive any substantial support from any government towards enhancing its development to produce more to increase revenue earnings in terms of foreign exchange as well as increase employment opportunities.?
As a CSO committed to the promotion and development of an environmentally friendly and responsible ASM industry, ASMAN expects the political parties to have policy statements on some of the industry?s worries such as a progressive policy to reform and transform the ASM sector from its largely informal base to a formal one where at least 80-90% of its activities will be regularized for effective monitoring for tax revenue.
The Director of Policy & Research? called on government to manage and remedy the current environmental mess (abandoned pits, polluted water bodies and the massive deforestation) occasioned by the massive illegality perpetuated against the state by some illegal miners including foreigners. he added. A policy to adopt and promote a mercury free technology among ASM operators to safeguard the environment and human life as well as depict government?s commitment to the Minamata Convention which Ghana has become a signatory to since 2014.
The absence of? a comprehensive policy providing technical and financial support to ASM operators to increase productivity through efficient, best practices as well as other related sectors of ASM such as Salt Mining, Sand weaning etc is of very worrying. In addition, no policy direction towards developing ASM into Medium Scale Mining companies which shall bring about partnerships between Ghanaians and foreign partners as part efforts at doing away with the cancer of illegal foreign workers in the industry the statement added.
Kwasi Akuoko suggested the appointment of a Minister with oversight responsibility for ASM development or at best the creation of an Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Authority (ASMA) to give priority to the industry?s concerns as well as placing the sector?s stage as done with large-scale mining companies into a broader rural development strategy to contribute towards Ghana?s poverty reduction efforts..