Participants in a forum on sustainable practices in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in the country have called for more education on their operations to help clear the negative perception about the sector.
They said it was unfortunate that often, ASM was associated with illegal small-scale mining popularly known as galamsey, therefore, it was important to correct the notion because they were a vital part of the economy.
In an interview, the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners, Mr Godwin Armah, disabused the minds of the gathering that small scale miners were all galamsey operators.
“We have been stigmatised for far too long. The fact that there are miscreants doesn’t mean we all are. The media has never been interested in the ASM sector until Operation Vanguard began so it is about time to follow through,” he stated.
Mr Armah added that the media should apprise itself with the differences between the ASM and galamsey and understand the mining methods employed by the licensed ASM operators.
The Coordinator of the Third World Network (TWN-Africa), Dr Yao Graham, in an interview said because of the numbers of the ASM, it would require a much bigger decentralised state machinery to manage it on a large scale???
He deduced that the institutional mechanisms for managing the mining sector was devised primarily for large scale mining and that there was no institutional machinery to support the small-scale sector.
“The institutional machinery has not caught up with that. How do we accelerate it to take account of the small-scale sector not only in mining and gold but all business sectors?” he said.
He noted that there was a national uproar around ASM, looking at its perverse situation due to issues of galamsey operations in there, and which required a strong multi-dimensional approach.
Some participants expressed concern that the government’s resolve to end illegal mining / galamsey through a ban on ASM generally, had brought real challenges with subsequent effects on the economy.
The Chairman of the Federation of Gold Jewelers Association, Mr Shallovern Srodah, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that gold was their major raw material and that currently, they had none to work with.
“Our source isn’t from the multinationals but from ASMs. Most of us have closed our workshops. The ban has also affected the value chain and not only ASM operators,” he said.
Mr Srodah argued that for some Ghanaians to take steps to obtain license to operate legally in the presence of illegal mining should rather encourage the nation to support them instead of banning their activities as well.
“I cannot imagine the minister for transport announcing that because of the increase in accidents, all vehicles should come to a stop. We must find a suitable way to deal with the issue or else, there will be chaos,” he added. GB