Small scale miners want to join inter-ministerial task force team

President John Dramani Mahama
President John Dramani Mahama

The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) on Tuesday called on government to include them in the inter-ministerial task force established by the President to halt the spread of illegal mining.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra, the Executive Director of the Association, Mr Emmanuel Yirenkyi  Antwi, said the Association supports the President’s initiative because it is in line with the Mining Act.

He said the difference between small scale mining and illegal mining was that the former is a legalized venture backed by law which is unlike illegal miners or ‘galamsey’ operators who have no permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Mr Antwi said the Mining Act clearly stipulates that small scale mining is a preserve of Ghanaians and urged all interested foreigners to rather go into large scale mining as the law does not permit them to work in the small scale category.

He said currently the large number of foreigners operating illegal small scale and artisanal mining is alarming and there was a need for action.

Mr Antwi said the small scale mining industry in 2012 produced about 30 percent of total gold production and 100 percent of the total diamonds produced in the country.

He said the small scale mining sector is also the sole supplier of raw gold to the local jewelry industry.

Besides the contribution, he said, small scale mining helps to prevent the rural-urban drift and employs about 3 million people directly and indirectly.

Mr Antwi said the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners is concerned about the use of heavy equipment in illegal mining saying the use of such heavy equipment had compounded the degradation of the environment.

He expressed worry that some security agencies have started misapplying the presidential directive and were harassing licensed small scale miners who attempted to move their equipment to their allocated mining sites.

“We appeal to the security agencies to exercise restraint since His Excellency President Mahama has not directed them to harass legalized miners. Moreover small scale miners have permits from EPA as far as restoration of their mined sites are concerned,’’ he said.

Source: GNA

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