The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has come out to endorse the mandate of the inter-ministerial taskforce inaugurated by the President to deal with the menace of illegal mining, saying, it is in accordance with Section 83 of the Mining Act 703 (2006).
At a news conference organised in Accra on Tuesday to state its position on the matter, the Executive Director of GNASSM, Mr. Emmanuel Yirenkyi Antwi, addressing the press, said the Association supports the President?s directive and will, therefore, collaborate with the inter-ministerial committee to achieve its objectives.
?We the Small Scale Miners Association support the President?s directive because it is in accordance with Section 83 of the Mining Act 703 (2006); we will collaborate with the inter-ministerial committee to achieve its objectives.
?Some foreign nationals have, however, abused the Ghanaian hospitality for too long to our disadvantage. Our President must be commended for taking such bold initiative and the Association solidly stands by him in that regard?, Mr. Yirenkyi Antwi stated.
He further noted that, Ghana is not the only country in the world that is gasping for breath as far as artisanal and small scale mining is concerned due to the fact that the industry, if managed well, has the potential to eliminate poverty; boost the economy, breed fantastic entrepreneurs and empower its citizens economically.
Mr. Yirenkyi Antwi, however, intimated that, small scale mining in Ghana now has a very bad name, ?galamsey? which is synonymous with destruction, degradation and pollution.
However, he said, the unfortunate thing is that, the positive side of small scale mining is almost never highlighted.
?The small scale mining industry in 2012 produced about 30% of the total gold produced in Ghana and 100% of the total diamond production. It is also the sole supplier of raw gold to the local jewellery industry and any other value addition chain and the industry employs about 3 million people directly and indirectly?, he added.
The miners, however, lament that, although they were in support of the decision by President John Dramani Mahama to check the infiltration into the small-scale mining sector by foreigners and its attendant degradation of the environment, some members of the taskforce as well as some security personnel were pursuing their own corrupt agenda, thus, have deviated from their mandate.
Executive Director of the GNASSM also accused some members of the inter-ministerial task force set up to check illegal mining of harassment, extortion and brutalities.
?The security taskforce has started misapplying the presidential directive in this regard and is questioning licensed small-scale miners who attempt to move equipment to their mining sectors?.
?We appeal to the security agencies to exercise restraint, since the President has not directed them to harass legalised miners. Some police, Immigration, Customs and military personnel of the taskforce, from time to time, patrol sites and extort money from illegal foreign miners without arresting any of them,? he alleged.
The Association has also drawn the Committee?s attention to what it called a serious illegality being carried out in the Ayiem Forest Reserve within the Bibiani Forest District.
It said illegal miners have evaded the Reserve, stretching from Juabo through Sraha to Ayiem in the Amenfi East District of the Western Region.
The small scale miners have therefore, assured the President of their support and cooperation, asking him to involve them in the work of the Task Force since they are best placed to know where all the illegalities are being carried out.
Source:?STORY BY: PIUS K. DOGBEY