Mr Mike Hammah, Minister for Lands and Natural Resource has reiterated government’s willingness to provide the necessary support to facilitate the development of small scale mining.
To this end, he said, government had made a number of interventions besides putting in place Policy and Regulatory Framework to promote the industry.
Some of the measures include creation of mining offices of the Mineral Commission, establishment of a National Security Sub-Committee on Lands and Natural Resources, developing strategic framework to address the challenges in the small scale mining sub-sector, blocking out areas for small-scale mining and formation of small scale mining associations.
Others are sensitisation and education programmes, monitoring visits and radio programmes, financial assistance to small scale mining cooperatives and alternative livelihood projects.
Mr Hammah made this known during a stakeholder meeting on Tuesday in Accra to deliberate on key issues that were raised during the First National Mining Forum in July this year.
The outcome of the meeting would help inform the sector Ministry on appropriate policy reforms, legal regulatory reforms, as well as institutional capacity that would need to be undertaken in the mining sector.
The sector accounts for about seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Products and mineral exports made up 41 per cent of total merchandise exports.
In 2011, the export revenue from the mineral sector amounted to five billion dollars.
The sector currently contributes about 17.5 per cent of Ghana’s total corporate tax earnings, and 28.3 per cent of government revenue. It also employs 28,000 people in the large scale and mine support services industry whilst over 1,000,000 people are engaged in the small scale mining.
Mr Hammah expressed worry about the current level of illegal small scale mining operations, which impacted negatively on health and environment with some national security implications.
He said it was estimated that about 300 lives had been lost in these illegal activities from 2011 to date.
He noted that the recent the activities of foreign illegal miners had taken a new dimension as they carried weapons and security dogs to terrorise locals, who dared to challenge, adding that they usually operated close to local communities with the support of traditional leaders, landlords, farmers and some opinion leaders.
He mentioned the Chinese, Indians, Russians, Spaniards and Burkinabe’s to be the main foreigners, who are known to be involved in this illegal business saying, “Even though Ghana welcomes foreigner’s investing in the mining sector, this must be done according to our country’s laws”.
The Minister noted that foreigners were not to be granted license for small scale mining but rather licensed to operate in the large scale and other areas.
“In a few recommended cases, however, mine support service licenses are granted to foreigners to operate”, he said.
He advised mining companies not only to extract wealth but also inject opportunities into the communities which they operate.
Mr Fred Ohene Kena, Chairman of the Mineral Commission, called for adequate policy and regulatory framework to oversee the exploration and exploitation of the mineral resources to ensure ‘win-win’ benefits for Ghana and investors.
He said there was the need to collaborate with all stakeholders to develop practical implementation and enforcement strategies of the policies and regulatory framework.
He said improvement in good governance of the sector was important for the country to attract and retain investors for the development of the sector.