THE Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) has called on the government to clearly distinguish between small-scale mining and illegal mining popularly known as galamsey.
It also called for a more effective streamlining and regulation of small-scale mining (activities in the country.
Its General Secretary, Mr Prince William Ankrah, explained that the extensive damage inflicted by galamsey operators on the environment and the cost of reclamation that needed to be done, regulating the activities in the SSM sector was critical to avoid a repeat of the past.
“We commend the government for the political will exhibited on this matter and urge it, not to at any time, sacrifice its critical role of protecting the environment on the altar of political expediency,” he stated at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union in Accra.
The union is therefore urging the government to tread cautiously over the Ghana-China Bauxite Barter
Agreement which seeks to barter trade the country’s bauxite resources for infrastructure in a deal worth over US$2 billion.
It said that previous experiences under similar arangements called for detailed analysis of the bauxite barter deal particularly, the Atiwa concession, to guarantee value for money as well as ensure full protection of the environment.
Mr Ankrah admitted however, that given the huge infrastructure deficit nationwide, the amount to be raised from the deal would go a long way to fix some of the basic economic infrastructure such as the railway system, major roads / highways, airports, the country urgently needs to spur economic growth and transformation.
However, he said “Looking at the environmental impact and cost associated with the deal, the government must engage thoroughly and accommodate the different shades of opinion on the issue before the deal is finalised.”
He further called for the operationalisation of the Mineral Development Fund (MDF) that was approved in 2017 to coordinate and direct projects and other development initiatives in mining communities.
Mr Ankrah said the union had in the last decade brought the current deplorable state of mining communities in the country to the fore on many of its platforms for redress.
A six-month moratorium was initially imposed on small-scale mining on April 1, 2017, to curb illegal mining and its negative impact on biodiversity and health.
An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), headed by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, was constituted, with the mandate to enforce the ban and develop a comprehensive roadmap to guide the activities of small-scale miners to ensure sustainable mining and protect the environment.
A roadmap for the government to lift the ban on SSM was recently rolled out, and although it did not state the specific time the ban would be lifted, there were indications that it may happen before the end of this year.