The Akufo-Addo administration has finally lifted the ban on small-scale mining across the country with effect from Monday, December 17, 2018.
Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who doubles as the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, made the announcement on Friday, December 14, 2018, at the Accra International Conference Centre.
He officially launched government’s new policy framework on regularizing and reforming mining activities in Ghana at the event. The announcement was greeted with cheers and applause from some small-scale miners that intermittently interrupted the speech of the minister, who was compelled to state that “I didn’t finish the sentence.”
The small-scale miners across the country have been looking forward to the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining over the last 23 months. It became necessary for President Akufo-Addo to place a ban on all small-scale mining across the country in 2017 due to large-scale destruction of the environment, river bodies and forest reserves by illegal miners, popularly known as ‘galamseyers.’
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng indicated that Ghana would need about $29 billion to reclaim the degraded lands. According to Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, government deemed it prudent to lift the ban following the successful implementation of the roadmap.
He warned that the ban had been lifted for only small-scale miners, whose concessions have been duly validated. Publication The names of mining companies that have been validated shall be published on Monday, December 17, in newspapers and IMCIM’s portal. He stated that the validated companies would go back to work under the regularized and reformed framework.
“Unregularized miners, who were referred to as ‘galamseyers’ are now being put into community mining groups,” he disclosed. “Considering the efforts government has put in place to sanitize the sector, there should be no logical reason why anyone in Ghana should engage in illegal mining going forward,” he added.
The publication is expected to assist the various security agencies to know companies that have been authorized to undertake mining. Reforms There is the need to amend laws that allow foreigners to provide mining services to Ghanaians, ban the fabrication and transportation of dredging equipment on water bodies and abolition of the practice of bulk sampling.
The framework is also to ensure that all those engaged in small-scale illegal mining receive the needed training and licensing. Lack of Political Will Prof. Frimpong Boateng explained that Ghana has been mining for over 500 years and that prior to 1992, mining activities were undertaken in a more dignified manner.
“Since 1992, ruthless practices have been introduced into small-scale mining and successive governments have been aware of illegal mining activities and their associated adverse environmental impact and have made some efforts to fight the menace,” he indicated. He said the lack of political will and reclamation exercise affected the sustenance of the fight against ‘galamsey’ in the past.
He disclosed that President Akufo-Addo, who came to power on January 7, 2017, had demonstrated the greatest political will ever in the fight against illegality in Ghana’s mining sector. Background on ban The ban on all small-scale mining activities was introduced by President Akufo-Addo in February 2017 in order to stop the negative effects of illegal small-scale mining, otherwise known as ‘galamsey’ on the environment.
An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) was established in March 2017 by the President to probe the activities of the ‘galamseyers’ and hold discussions with them.
Arrests, Prosecution As part of government’s plan to stop illegal mining in the country, the President formed a taskforce known as Operation Vanguard. The taskforce, Prof. Frimpong Boateng said, has so far arrested 1,339 illegal miners made up of foreigners from DRC Congo, China, among others and that out of the number, there has been 10 per cent prosecution so far.
He stated that about 614 excavators, 84 vehicles, 82 motors, 5,739 changfans, among others, were seized in the process. Fight Not Over The ban on small-scale mining, he said, is a very small part of what government wants to do to improve the small-scale mining sector. He stated that the fight against illegal mining was not over and that government would bring on board more sincere security personnel to combat the menace going forward.
Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, called for collaboration and support from all Ghanaians in the continuous fight against illegal mining.
“History and posterity will judge us harshly if we fail,” he said. He stressed the need to collectively work to preserve the environment for unborn generations. A member of the Media Coalition on Illegal Mining and former Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group, Kenneth Ashiagbey, also called for a sustained fight against ‘galamsey.’
Pledges General Secretary of Ghana Small-Scale Miners Association, Godwin Hammah, said the Association had invested GH¢1 million to support the taskforce to clear changfans from the water bodies.
“In the coming years, we shall deploy taskforce to further support government’s efforts at clearing recalcitrant miners from the system,” he stated. They called for more responsible and sustainable mining in the country.