Government suspends licenses for small scale miners

Peter 1 Peter Amewu is Lands and Natural Resources Minister

Wed, 5 Apr 2017 Source: thestatesmanonline.com

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu, yesterday announced that Government had suspended the issuance of licences for small scale mining in the country, as part of efforts to engender sanity in the mining sector, and especially tackle the ‘galamsey’ menace.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu, yesterday announced that Government had suspended the issuance of licences for small scale mining in the country, as part of efforts to engender sanity in the mining sector, and especially tackle the ‘galamsey’ menace.

“Small scale mining has been the preserve of Ghanaians all these years but never have we seen the influx of such huge earth moving equipment being used to mine as seen in recent years. Most of the people involved in this illicit mining are foreigners and this has received national and global attention,” he explained.

“The people going round destroying the environment are killers. The metal contents, mercury, finites that keep finding its way into our water and food is alarming and the health of our people is at risk. There is no better time than now to go after these guys and clamp down on them no matter who they are, be it politicians or chiefs,” he stressed.

Mr Amewu added that an inter-ministerial committee set up by the President to find lasting means of tackling the problem would in the next few weeks unveil to Ghanaians, a comprehensive strategy to completely stamp out illegal mining and its devastating effects on the country.

The committee comprises the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Water and Sanitation, Science and Environment, Defence, Interior, Information and Regional Re-organisation.

The minister last week issued a three-week ultimatum to ‘galamseyers’ to stop the nefarious act or face the full rigours of the law.

Ghana’s major water bodies and forest reserves have been completely destroyed due to the surge of illegal mining across all regions of the country, leading to a shut down of some water treatment plants.

Speaking at the launch of a media coalition against galamsey in Accra yesterday, on the theme “Lets stop galamsey”, the Minister averred that government would not treat the issue of illegal mining with kids’ gloves and was determined to ensure the environment was rid of such unscrupulous acts.

The coalition includes the Graphic Communications Group Limited, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, New Times Corporation, Ghana Journalists Association, Private Newspaper Publishers Association and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, among other media agencies.

The move is to charge the media to go at all length to expose the impunity with which a section of the society is plundering Ghana’s lands in search of gold and other minerals, thereby destroying major water bodies across the country.

It is also to name and shame all actors, directly or indirectly involved in the menace, while exerting pressure on authorities to apprehend and prosecute offenders without fear or favour, to ensure that Ghana’s natural vegetation and water bodies are restored.

Mr Amewu pledged government’s support for the media, as they ready themselves to go every length to help the fight, saying, “the timing is right, the decision is right and the support to fight galamsey is right, to safeguard the future of coming generations.”

The Minister for Information and Presidential Spokesperson, Mustapha Hamid, noted that Government had no excuse not to stamp out the devastating menace of illegal mining in the country, having received the unanimous backing of the media.

According to him, the shifted focus of the media from sensationalism to championing issues that threaten the very survival of the citizenry and the country as a whole gave government the impetus to put in place drastic measures to weed out galamsey and other inimical activities that impede the progress of the country.

“Often times, the media is seen backlashing government for taking drastic decisions which are supposed to serve the best interest of the country. However, this time, the media is not saying ‘let us not clamp down on galamsey because people will lose their livelihood’ because the effect on us is outrageous. This means that government has no excuse not to do the right thing to stamp out galamsey and restore the future of this country,” Mr Hamid added.

He said it was unthinkable for an estimated number of only 3,000 people involved in such nefarious act to continue to have a field’s day at the expense of the lives of close to 27 million Ghanaians.

“This government does not intend to handle this matter on a peace meal basis where you go in to just seize equipment and the people purchase another one to continue the act. In the next few weeks, we will unveil to Ghanaians a comprehensive plan that this time will be executed to stop this matter and make sure that it is stopped for good,” he assured.

He called for a change in ethical behaviour of the populace to ensure that the resources of Ghana was well protected to benefit future generations.

The Minister of Water of Sanitation, Joseph Adda, for his part, expressed delight that the media had taken an active stance in making sure illegal mining was stopped in the country.

“If water is life, we don’t expect any country to give us their life, especially when in history, countries have fought over water. We are blessed as a country with abundance of water and our own irresponsible behaviour is destroying this resource,” he said.

According to him, there is an urgent need to revert to responsible mining “that will give us the necessary resources to build this country, not this improper ways we have adopted.”

The President of the GJA, Affail Money, implored journalists not to make the subject of galamsey and its negative impact as a one-off issue but be committed to the fight against the menace until it was stamped out.

“The constitution enjoins us as the fourth estate of the realm to hold government accountable and we must not renege on this call until such a time that the lives of our people and the environment are well secured,” he stated.

Kenneth Ashibgey, the Managing Director of GCGL, called on the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to place a moratorium on all manner of licences for mining in the country to sanitise the system.

He said the steering committee of the coalition would ensure that a day was set aside by the media in every month to highlight the issue of galamsey and track efforts at eliminating it to secure the future of the country.

Rev Dr Opuni Frimpong, General Secretary of the Christian Council, called the Church to publicly identify themselves with the menace of illegal mining and completely condemn it in no uncertain terms.

According to him, such a move will discourage members from involving themselves in the illicit act, which he described as a threat to the future of the country.

“Most of the people involved in this practice are our members. They are in our churches and mosques. They bring these monies they get from the galamsey to us so, we are a part of this problem and we must be part of the solution by coming out publicly to discourage and condemn such activities to rebuild this country,” he insisted.

“We know that currently finite, mercury and other metals are finding their way into our water bodies and such harmful metals as far as the human system is concerned are affecting people’s heart and kidney’s and the people suffering from these things are part of us, therefore, we cannot close our eyes to this issue. We must be part of it so we do not get to the point where we import water to even baptise our church members,” he added.

Rev Dr Opuni observed that the finances of most churches was gradually dwindling as members involved in farming and other agricultural activities were being deprived of their livelihood due to galamsey.

He therefore charged the media not to relent “till all major water bodies, such was the Birim, Pra, Ankobra among others were drinkable again” and implored the President Akufo-Addo to show strong political will to end the menace.

Source: thestatesmanonline.com
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