Solidaridad West Africa (SWA), an international civil society organisation, has outlined plans to help ensure best practices in the country’s mining sector, with a focus on the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) sector where a lot of the mining malpractices happen.
A member of the organisation, Mr Yaw Britwum Opoku, speaking at a media workshop in Accra on “Responsible Practices in the SSM Sector” organised by SWA, said the aim of the organisation was to help monitor the operations and activities of miners to ensure that their activities did not harm the environment and communities they operated in.
“Our goal is to work together with partners to promote responsible practices in the ASM sector and with the high growth of technological advancement, we have selected key areas that require innovative measures and skills to improve the sector,” he stated.
He noted that the areas included the issue of climate change, impact of the investment in the se
Mr Opoku also pointed out that there had been constant and persistent education and sensitisation on the negative impact of improper mining methods and also training for the miners on the benefit of proper mining practices.
He said the organisation, together with its partners, had also supported the miners to encourage health and safety, environmental management, responsible use of mercury and ore optimisation, internal control system, labour and gender issues and basic financial management.
Importance of ASM sector
According to Mr Opoku, the sector contributed immensely to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, provided livelihood for over one million people, reduced poverty, stimulated growth in local communities, and ensured women empowerment and fight against child labour.
“ASM contributes 30 per cent (1.66 billion, OZ) of the total gold production of gold and diamond. With this, there is no doubt that the sector is the bedrock of the economy which needs to be supported always,” he added.
However, he said although the sector contributed a lot to the development of the country, it was still confronted with challenges that needed urgent attention.
Mr Opoku indicated that SWA had set up incubators to deliver several services in the country and established an international accelerator platform for learning and exchange.
He urged all stakeholders to support the multi-sectoral mining integrated project, and authorities to review and enforce the legal, as well as regulatory aspect of the sector; with a call on the miners to take advantage of the Environmental Protection Agency, SWA and any credible organisation that showed interest in the well-being of the sector.
The General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM), Mr Godwin Armah, said the issue of illegal mining was not a one-person issue but one that should concern everybody in the country.
He observed that the negative impacts affected all and sundry and so it behoved all to work to ensure that small-scale mining (SSM) was done in a sustainable manner, while addressing associated environmental challenges.
“What we are saying is we want space, we want co-existence to do our businesses because we contribute to development,” he said.
Mr Armah outlined interventions by the association to ensure that operators in the sector operate effectively and work in compliance with the legal framework.
“We are working with the International Labour Organisation on eliminating child labour and increasing the health and safety issues within the small-scale sector. We are working to ensure that women entrepreneurs work within the SSM sector just like their male counterparts,” he stated.
Mr Armah said GNASSM had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Mines and Energy, Tarkwa to build the capacity of members to understand what they were doing to be able to comply with rules and regulations.
“There is no way people will comply when they don’t understand what they are doing. We signed the MoU in 2013 and have since trained 850 small-scale miners. Also looking at environmental regulation, we have formed a task force to ensure that people working near water bodies adhere to environmental laws,” he added.