Re:’ Foreigners are not entitled to small-scale mining

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 Source: Badu, K.

Re:’ Foreigners are not entitled to small-scale mining –Inusah Fuseini’

I commend the Minister-designate for the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, for his good intentions on small-scale mining sector in Ghana. (See:www.citifmonline.com/index.php?id=1.1245678 -). I appreciate Alhaji Inusah Fuseini’s gracious intentions and will succinctly clarify some issues regarding the small-scale mining sector in Ghana.

In fact, I have had ‘sleepless nights’ over the ‘mass destruction of the rural areas by the illegal miners. I have thus been urging the authorities to halt the illegal mining by the Chinese illegal immigrants. See my serialised articles: ‘The Lunatic Fringe of Chinese Immigrants Must Be Reprimanded-parts 1 to 10. So, I felt somehow vindicated when I perused the Minister-designate for the Lands and Natural Resources statement regarding the small scale mining sector shake-up.

According to City FM, the Minister-designate for the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini has promised to flush out all foreigners engaged in illegal mining popularly known as galamsey operations if his nomination is approved by Parliament.”

Speaking at his vetting on Friday, he said “a new policy will be put in place to monitor the activities of all galamsey operators in the country.”

“The galamsey menace is one that everybody appears to be worried about and there is a cause to worry because they spoil the forest, pollute our water bodies and cause environmental challenges. They could be a catalyst to the resource curse and that is why government has said small scale mining must be the preserve of Ghanaians,” he stated.

Hon Fuseini further disclosed, “It is important for us to embark on a vigorous information and education campaign to assure all Ghanaians who want to engage in small scale mining that there is an opportunity for them to do so within the laws of the country.”

“We as a ministry responsible for that sector will be able to monitor the activities of galamsey operations. The system of registration less cumbersome for citizens who want to undertake the venture so they successfully do the small scale mining legally. Foreigners are not by law entitled to any piece within small scale mining,” he added.

Well, I hope yours is not mere political inebriations. Needless to say, your predecessors have failed to enforce the existing small-scale mining laws. In fact, you have stated the obvious,--foreigners have no right to engage in small-scale mining in Ghana. For example, subject to subsections (1) and (2) of section 75 of the Minerals and Mining Law, 1986 (PNDCL 153) and amended Act 2006(Act 703), no licence for small-scale gold mining operation shall be granted to any person who is not a citizen of Ghana.

And, any person who without a licence granted by the Secretary undertakes any small-scale gold mining operation contrary to (subsection 1) of section 1 of small-scale mining law ; or acts in contravention of any other provision of small-scale mining law in respect of which an offence has not been prescribed, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.

More significantly, where an alien is convicted of an offence under this Law he shall after paying the fine or serving any imprisonment imposed on him, be liable to deportation under section 13 of the Aliens Act, 1963 (Act 160).

Yes, we have expedient laws in place. Nonetheless, we don’t seem to have ‘enforcers’ of the laws. For example, although, the small scale mining laws prohibit the use of large explosives, Chinese miners have been allowed to use unstructured methods, and at the same time supplying large explosive, rock crushers and other machines to local miners.

Indeed, a lot of people are complicit with the chaos in the small-scale mining sector. For instance, although, the small-scale mining laws prohibit transfer of mining licences, some Ghanaians are prepared to transfer the licences to their foreign minions whiles the sector regulator-Ghana Minerals Commission looks on unconcerned.

In actual fact, since the small-scale mining is capital intensive, some Ghanaians will continue to pass on the mining licences to their well-off foreign minions. If we indeed want to ‘flush out’ the foreign infiltrators in the small-scale mining sector, we must first institute harsh punishments for Ghanaians who pass on the mining licences to the ‘foreigners.

And, the chiefs in the affected areas must also be reprimanded for the part they play in the illegal mining. Apparently, some chiefs sell the mining lands to the illegal miners, although it is unlawful for any chief to do that. With hindsight, the uncaring Chiefs are colluding with the ‘criminals’ to steal our natural resources. Therefore, it would only be fair to Ghanaians if such offending Chiefs are prosecuted accordingly.

Going forward, it is extremely important that the authorities come hard on the recalcitrant Ghanaians, including the lawless chiefs who are conniving with the foreigners. Further still, Ghana Minerals Commission must Endeavour to provide the necessary education and training for the miners who are in receipt of the small scale mining licenses. The education and training must focus on the application of structured mining methods, the use of modern technology and safe mining practices.

More importantly, the small scale miners must be given training on the handling and disposal of the hazardous chemicals such as cyanide and mercury.

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K.