THE Coordinator of Third World Network-Africa, Dr Yao Graham, has criticised the unabated ban on small-scale mining in the country, saying it was an illegality that violate the rights of miners.
He told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that the ban on small-scale mining, which was the government’s intervention to stamp out illegal mining, was a misplaced approach to curbing the menace.
“The illegal ban on registered small-scale miners has no place in the solution because their rights are being violated and the government will not dare do this to foreign investors so this is an act of bullying basically,” he said.
Mr Graham, whose organisation conducts research and indulge in advocacy work, implored the government to resort to the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) which was built on a three-prong approach involving the provision of the law, enforcement of the law and technology to ensure transparency and sustainable mining.
“The MMIP that the government put together contains some of the elements going forward and it shows that this is a long-term issue but the MMIP, which recognise the complexity of the issue, is sitting on the shelve,” he said.
Operation Vanguard ineffective
On the deployment of military and police task force to stamp out the menace forcefully, Dr Graham said it was also a misplaced intervention which was unsustainable because illegal mining was a socio economic problem that had little to do with maintaining law and order.
“I don’t think sending troops into the field can solve the problem. This is not a law and order problem. The law and order problem is developing on the back of a socio economic problem and must be solved with a complex approach.
“There are flaws with problem identification and ,therefore, a flaw with the approach to solve it because this is the third military campaign against small-scale mining in this country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government says it had developed 15,000 hectares of oil palm plantation at Ayamfuri in the Western Region alongside the nursing of some two million oil palm seedlings for distribution to illegal miner’s ready to venture into farming.
The government also intends to introduce medium-scale mining as part of a road map to address some of the challenges in the small-scale mining sector and control illegal mining.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Ms Barbara Oteng Gyasi, who dropped the hints, said the move was also to address the participation of foreigners in small-scale mining which was reserved for only citizens of the country.
Speaking at the national policy summit in Kumasi on July 24 on the theme, “Improving the small scale mining regime in Ghana", Ms Oteng Gyasi said under the medium-scale mining arrangement, foreigners who had interest in the mining sector but lacked the capacity to invest in large-scale mining, could partner a local company to acquire a mining concession.
She said this would eliminate the involvement of foreigners in small-scale mining and enable the government to effectively monitor activities of foreigners in the industry.
The small-scale mining sector employs over one million Ghanaians and contributes about 39 per cent of the country's gold output. — GB