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Sensitise communities on the dangers of illegal mining – Justice Dotse

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Small scale miners

Mr Justice Jones Dotse, a Supreme Court Judge has advocated sensitisation programmes for people in small scale mining communities to create awareness on the dangers of their operations.

He said there had been public concern on the activities of these small scale miners, especially those operating illegally on water bodies and the land which results in environmental degradation and land pollution.

Mr Justice Dotse made the call when addressing the opening session of a three-day workshop for Judges to sensitise them on the negative activities of illegal mining in Accra on Thursday.

The workshop was also to enable judges to identify the negative practices of illegal miners and the effect of the law on such acts, and brainstorm to improve on court decisions to deter such illegal activities.

The Judicial Service organised the workshop.

He said it was important that the impact of any court judgment on cases of small scale mining was discussed to identify the challenges and how they should be addressed.

Mr Justice Dotse noted that the workshop would provide a platform for judges to have an appreciation of the impact of the activities of small scale miners on the environment.

He urged the judges not to lose sight of the fact that small scale mining operations, which were usually surface mining, posed a threat to the environment through chemical pollution, soil erosion and open ditches in the mining areas.

Mr Justice Dotse said the ability to sustain resources in the localized areas could be threatened if appropriate sanctions were not imposed on the perpetrators and could have national security implications.

Mr Mike Hammah, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, said the small scale mining sub-sector had contributed significantly to the economy in terms of production in the country.

He explained that last year small scale miners produced 23 per cent of the total gold production for the country and therefore called for more assistance for the miners in their efforts to operate in a technically, economically, environmentally and sustainable manner.

Mr Hammah said that government was simplifying the procedure involved in granting small-scale mining licenses to operators to reduce the time and cost of obtaining a licence.

He said government had also recognised the small scale mining operators’ contribution to rural livelihood, development of entrepreneurship and the provision of industrial raw materials, and government had implemented measures to regulate and promote small scale mining with positive results.

“More efforts were needed to implement policies that would enhance the development of a vibrant, efficient, modern and environmentally friendly small scale mining sub-sector,” Mr Hammah added.

He said government would disseminate information to raise awareness on health, safety and environmental risks and in addition, periodically revise the occupational health and safety guideline for small scale mining to mitigate the negative impacts of their activities.

Mr Fred Ohene Kena, Board Chairman of Minerals Commission, called for collaborative efforts in fighting the negative impact of illegal mining activities in the communities.

Source: GNA

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