Former Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission and the Chamber of Mines, Dr Tony Aubyn, has faulted government for halting the activities of all small scale mining as it mounted a campaign against illegal mining (galamsey).
According to Dr Tony Aubyn, the fight against galamsey has negatively impacted responsible small scale mining which contributes significantly to gold production in the country vis-à-vis tax revenue.
Small scale miners constitute about 30 percent of players in the mining industry and Dr Aubyn believes government could have had a better approach to the galamsey fight.
Speaking to Joy Business, the former Minerals Commission boss described government’s illegal mining fight as rushed.
“So I think that there were some concerns, significant concerns about the impact of mining and of course the influx of Chinese into our system. So, I think that raised an alarmist concern.
But I think we shouldn’t have rushed into it. Iit’s like a madman coming to you in the bathroom, taking your towel and you run towards him to collect your towel, you know…you go with everything out. That’s a mistake I believe shouldn’t have happened especially because in 2013 there was an attempt by the then government to use force to stop illegal mining,” he said.
The issue of the ban on small scale mining and ‘galamsey’ has taken center stage in this year’s electioneering campaign.
Ghana is recognised today as the second-largest gold producer in Africa.
It is the undisputed mining hub of West Africa and is dominated by two main gold mining sectors: the large scale mining sector (LSM) and small-scale or artisanal small-scale mining (SSM/ASM).
Within the small-scale gold mining sector is “galamsey”, a local term used in Ghana for illegal or unregulated gold mining operations.
Illegal gold mining operations are criticised heavily throughout Ghana due to their detrimental environmental effects, which many believe outweigh any possible economic and cultural justifications.
The general public, the media, and academia have raised serious concerns about the negative effects of galamsey operations and have called for its abolishment, and the restoration of the many abandoned mining sites and spoils.