The multi-stakeholder Learning and Leadership Group include members across a wide spectrum of the mining industry practitioners who would help to build support for the institutions for positive growth and development.
The process will enable the Commission and stakeholders in the sector ensure a major shift from an ASM sector, which is driven by poverty and lack of options to ASM operations that run efficient businesses with adequate access to finance and better returns.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra to announce the initiative, Dr Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Mineral’s Commission, noted that the group was committed to move the ASM sector driven by poverty and lack of options to an efficiently run businesses with adequate access to finance.
He said the group’s focus was to ensure that the ASM moved from an “insecure and dangerous sector to one that enjoys secure rights and provides safe and decent jobs to mineworkers and the local community.”
The artisanal and small-scale mining sector accounts for an estimated 34% of Ghana’s gold production in 2014 and provides livelihoods for approximately one million Ghanaians.
However, the sector has come under intense public scrutiny for major environmental and social challenges.
Dr Aubynn said the group was of the view that the ASM sector could be improved to become an inclusive, responsible, rights-based engine for growth in Ghana.
“We believe that this is possible. But we will need to shift policy and attitudes, as well as a great deal of collaboration and goodwill,” he said.
On her part, Amina Tahiru a small-scale miner and coordinator of women in mining at the Ghana Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) also called for commitment, adding “We have to commit ourselves to responsible mining practices so we can have the respect of Ghanaian society. Many small scale miners are already working hard to operate responsibly and we want many more to do the same.”
She pointed out that, Civil society groups like the ASM Africa Network have taken it upon themselves to support the development of an environmentally friendly sustainable and socially acceptable small scale mining sector, that can be a toll for poverty reduction, growth and development.
Nii Adjetey Kofi-Mensah, Head of the ASM Africa Network, said the Learning and Leadership Group had developed agenda for action including demonstrating the business case for a responsible ASM, improving practices within the sector and also building capacity and support across institutions to recognize ASM as a force that will push positive growth and equity.
The participatory reforms process began in January in Tarkwa where leaders took the decision to guide a process of transformation in the ASM sector which followed an action dialogue.
The National Minerals Commission and the International Institute for Environment and Development are spearheading efforts for a participatory sector reforms process within the Artisans and Small Scale mining industry in Ghana.