Tackle Galamsey head on - UENR Council chair charges NDC,NPP
Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Energy and Natural resources has called on government to implement what he calls harsh but necessary policies that are crafted to curb the menace of illegal mining in the country.
Speaking at a two day dialogue session dubbed Transformational Dialogue on Small Scale Mining organized by the university, Prof. Kwasi Nsiah Gyabaah, hinted due to the nature of the modus operandi of artisanal and small scale miners, they most often engage in illegal mining but both New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress governments neglect the will to face the menace head on in other to avoid loosing votes.
“It is sad to note that the impact of past approaches to illegal mining have remained quite disappointing because the artisanal and small scale miners have operated on illegal bases resulting in revenue losses to the state. In addition, both NDC and NPP governments have not been able to implement the harsh but needed measures needed to address the change in this sector, for they fear of loosing votes during elections” he revealed.
He however intimated that, despite the negative perception about mining, pragmatic and modern measures can be adopted to ensure maximization of the natural deposit.
“It is also the case that with appropriate technology, education and training, mining can result in minimal environmental degradation, more efficiency and longevity of mining sites and improved profitability” Prof Gyabaah recommended.
He again underscored the positive impact of artisanal and small scale mining on both the economy and employment.
“It is estimated that about 2% to 4% if the world’s population depends directly on artisanal and small scale mining which produces about 20% of the minerals we use. In Ghana, the mining sector has attracted considerable foreign investment in the last decade. Artisanal and small scale mining provide employment for the youth and serves as major source of income for people in mining communities. Artisanal and small scale mining employ 10 times more people than large scale mining”he argued.
Prof Gyabaah therefore noted that he believes the theme for the dialogue “Enhancing multi-stakeholder approaches towards addressing challenges with artisanal and small scale mining, and institutional dynamics for sustainable practices in Ghana” will guide participants to develop solid scientific and technology capacity that will address the challenges in the mining sector.
On his part, the vice chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources expressed worry about past approaches that have been adopted by African governments to manage the canker.
“The failures may be attributed to the top-down approach to mostly used. That is decision makers for ASM practitioners without an insight of local realities. Thus, there are structural imbalances and disconnections between ASM practitioners and policy implementers” Prof Elvis Asare-Bediakosaid.
Hence, Prof Asare-Bediako called for an urgent need to build a knowledge-sharing platform that would facilitate a multi-stakeholder engagement for addressing the challenges militating against the ASM subsector in Africa.
“The first step to build capacity of ASM practitioners, especially, at our country level, is to design, build and sustain a multi stakeholder platform for dialogue and decision making. This platform will give them the opportunity to share their experiences and make meaningful contributions to enhance their performance on the grounds, and their relations with regulatory agencies” he advised.
Prof Asare-Bediako further called on both the government and industry players in the artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) to dialogue.
“On the part of the government, policies need to be drawn and clear guidelines given as to the most appropriate way ASM could be carried out focusing on the preservation of the environment, the water bodies, natural reserves and health. On the part of ASM operators, respect for law, lives, the environment, water bodies, health and a huge sense of responsibility towards the country and humanity should guide their operations as they follow government directives in contributing to the economy and growth of the nation” he entreated.
He hinted that in the university's 10th anniverssay, the university is equipped and ready to play a role in the mining sector of the country’s economy.
Speaking at the same event, the board chair of the Minerals Commission of Ghana observed the commission recognizes the huge challenge in regulating the mining sector but the president of the republic remains resolute to sanitize the sector.
Madam Barbara Oteng Gyasi disclosed, the commission’s topmost agenda as “the most significant activity we have undertaken is the community mining scheme. The community mining scheme has been introduced to ensure that we move all illegal activities from illegality to legality such that we register the community scheme and the youth who are engaged in the illegal mining activities will now be supported to undertake mining responsibly” she revealed.
She further intimated that “the commission is further engaging the commercial banks to make resources, which is funding available to the small scale mining sector so that we can do away with their support of the foreigners. Because, per our regulations, we are not suppose to allow foreigners to operate within the small scale mining sector. But because of lack of funding, they engage and participate with these Chinese and other foreigners, and that is where the major part of the problem is. So, we are encouraging the commercial banks to also support the small scale mining with the fund required” the former Member of Parliament for Prestea Huni-Valley posited.
The former Minister for tourism, creative arts and culture further noted the commission has engaged the services of the Geological Survey authority to undertake geological investigations to determine the mineralized areas which the minerals commission can give out to the small scale mining sector. This she notes “the commission brought out these areas to the small scale mining sector and we support them with these and other strategies”
The Minster of Land and Natural Resources commended the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) for seeking to partner government in its unrelenting drive to sanitize the small scale mining subsector through the institution of this Dialogue on the Small Scale Mining (SSM) challenge in Ghana.
Delivering a speech on behalf of the sector minister, the special advisor to Hon Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, his special advisor epressed utmost worry about the dire consequences of irregular illegal mining.
“The small scale mining subsector has the potential to spur growth and catalyse economic transformation of our economy, if organized well. However, the practice whereby the sector is bedeviled by wanton illegalities and destruction of forests and wildlife resources water bodies, and aquatic live, among others, must stop because it is a threat to our very existence as a country”
The speech further noted that his ministry’s outfit has not reneged on its commitment to fight the Galamsey peril. He revealed that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has successfully held the maiden National Consultative Dialogue from 14th to 15th April 2021, in Accra followed by two Regional Dialogues in Kumasi, for the Middle Belt, and Tamale, for the Northern Belt, on 12th May, 2021 and 19 th June 2021 respectively to outline some plausible measures to nip this environmental catastrophe in the bud
“Firstly the designation of Forest Reserves and Water bodies as REDZONES, again the institution of a specific military-led security operation dubbed "Operation Halt II" to rid the 'RED ZONES' of illegal mining activities; more so, decentralization of the enforcement mechanism which, now, has the various Regional Security Councils (REGSECs), under the direction of the Regional Ministers, at the forefront of our enforcement effort s well as expansion of the inclusiveness of the licensing regime to include traditional authorities as key stakeholders and Collaboration between the Minerals Commission and the Ghana Geological Survey Authority has also been heightened to identify areas that suitable and geologically investigate more blocked out areas and make them available for the small scale miners among others” it outlined.
The Ministry again expressed their unflinching support for the nation’s peace as they are poised to collaborate with stakeholders truncate activities of terrorist attacks.
“Those who fan conflicts and create terrorist activities are known to launder funds through illicit natural resource exploitations and dealings. Therefore, as we have been advised by the national security apparatus to heighten our alertness for such Infilteration, we would urge all to associated with the SSM subsector to be extra vigilant in who they deal with and what they do, to always stay within the confines of the law; that is where we can all find safety, security and peace”
Adding her voice to the call for responsible mining, the Bono Regional Minister, noted "These dialogues should aim at professing lasting solutions that will engender superior governance and management of ASGM subsector in Ghana. It should lead us to the discovery of plans to formalize the subsector. Again, this is in line with the global commitments in preserving the environment for future generations"
As a region that shares borger with Togo, she further employed citizens to be wary and gatekeepers of peace against any acts of terrorism.
"Finally, let me urge all of us to be vigilant in protecting the territorial integrity of our dear nation. It is one of our civic duties to contribute to the security of our immediate environment and the nation as a whole. As such we have a duty to report any act which is happening within our community and has the potential to be a security threat. Let us be on the lookout for one another by being each other’s keeper. Together, we can build our dear nation and make it a prosperous one" she urged the citizenry.