‘This Is A Clear Sign Of Coarse Governance’

Sat, 11 May 2013 Source: Badu, K.

“A reality documentary on DSTV’s Discovery Channel which was shot in Ghana and captured horrifying scenes of foreigners taking over mining sites and killing indigenes has sent Ghana’s Lands and Natural Resources Minister fuming”(See: 'Jungle Gold' film: Gov't orders arrest of two US nationals; Inusah Fuseini fumes over mining documentary, Myjoyonline.com/Ghanaweb.com, 10/05/2013).

This sorrowful revelation goes to show that we, Ghanaians, are our own “worst enemy”. The overarching question then is: who sold the land to the foreign illegal miners?

Obviously, some contumacious natives are in the habit of assisting the obstreperous foreign infiltrators in their flagitious activities. You see how ignorant some Ghanaians are?

In any case, I will dare say that the sector is not being regulated properly. Truly, some individuals are not doing what is expected of them. Indeed, if the small-scale mining sector is being regulated properly, we would not be witnessing the influx of foreign infiltrators.

That said, I believe strongly that societies at large can be both positively and negatively affected by small-scale mining. The positive effects may include the promotion of efficient resource use, such as extracting ores from small deposits or from tailings, and providing rural incomes. Whereas the negative effects may include water pollution, the release of mercury and other toxic and hazardous wastes into the free environment, and social tensions that can lead to civil unrest.

Having said that,, in order to achieve the maximum benefit, it is extremely important that society as a whole should have an interest in promoting and strengthening the role of small-scale mining in national development. In addition, regulating and strengthening of the developmental potential of the sector must be of heightened importance to the government.

Needless to say, potential economic benefits (tax revenues and development outcomes) can be derived from small-scale mining.

It is also true that small-scale mining is a significant contributor to the economic and social well-being of many people, and households in rural, remote, and poor communities in Ghana. But, I am afraid, the way small-scale mining sector is being regulated in Ghana, it does not look promising, it is ill-favoured

For instance, the laws which govern the small-scale mining are somehow confused and inconsistent. Needless to say, all the attention is primarily on large-scale mining sector. Indeed, the authorities lacklustre approach towards the policing of small-scale mining sector may cost the nation dearly in the long run.

For example, overlapping and conflicting laws, or laws and regulations that are not based on an understanding of the local context of small-scale mining, hinder and erode the sector’s potential to contribute to sustainable development.

Indeed, it cannot be concluded that the interests of indigenous people are consistent with those of small-scale miners. More so, while some indigenous people may secure their livelihoods from small-scale mining, there may be other cases in which non-indigenous small scale miners may threaten the lives of indigenous people (See: ‘Two Ghanaians shot dead by Chinese miners in Obuasi;myjoyonline.com,09/05/2013).

It is really sad that the two Ghanaians had perished at the hands of the boisterous and homicidal illegal Chinese miners . According to the said story, the two Ghanaians were among group of Ghanaians who attempted to resist the Chinese miners from encroaching on their land. This heinous crime should never be overlooked; the culprits must be brought to book.

Yes, the Chinese menace is real. For instance, in spite of the fact that by law, only Ghanaians are allowed to obtain mining licenses for small-scale mining operations, “thousands” of Chinese immigrants are working in the small scale mining sector in Ghana.

“The involvement of the Chinese has changed the dynamics of small-scale mining,” the head of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said in an interview.

“They use bulldozers, pay loaders and really heavy machinery. They have in fact mechanized artisanal mining and as a result the level of environmental devastation is huge.”

Amazingly, some Ghanaians are colluding with the Chinese illegal miners to forcibly dig our natural resources. Indeed, this illegal practice makes nonsense of the essence of the promulgation of 1989 small-scale mining law, Pndc l (218). Suffice it to say, the law was enacted to allow native Ghanaians to engage in small-scale mining operations.

However, often, Ghanaians would secure plots of land, and go into partnership with Chinese and other foreigners, who have the means to bring in the bulldozers and all the other big equipment.

Apparently, they, the natives, are exploiting the loopholes in the 1989 small-scale mining law (PNDCL 218). For example, the law states categorically that no licence for small-scale gold mining operation shall be granted to any person who is not a citizen of Ghana. However, the same law allows Ghanaian licence holders to seek logistics assistance from their foreign minions. This, however, allows some Ghanaian licence holders to go beyond the jurisdiction and involve the foreigners in the mining operations.

Indeed, the epochal violations of the small-scale mining laws go to show that there is a break down in the sector. For me, the sector requires overhaul. Indeed, better data and policies, are needed to get the sector back on track.

Going forward, it is extremely important that the 1989 small-scale mining law is amended. For example, the amendments must include stringent measures that will deter the indigenes from transferring the small-scale mining licences to their foreign minions, and must also prohibit allocation of mining lands to the illegal miners by some recalcitrant chiefs.

“We are not serious as a nation, are we?”

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K.