Government is determined to address galamsey – Osah Mills
Illegal mining (galamsey) is being tackled at the district level and taskforce groups have been created to halt the illegality, Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has said.
He said the taskforce would monitor mining activities in the area and ensure that the right thing is done.
Expressing his displeasure at the level of destruction that illegal mining has caused to water bodies in the country, Nii Osah Mills said “It will take all of us at the community, district, and regional levels to work together with the chiefs, land owners and community members to address the issue of galamsey.”
Taking his turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra, Mr Mills said government has critically considered galamsey operations and was doing everything possible to ensure that people did mining in a sustainable way.
“We are encouraging mining to be done in a legal way. We are trying to deal with the faceless people who sponsor illegal mining by providing expensive mining machines to the young people to operate with,” he said.
To address the challenges in the small scale mining sector, Mr Mills said Parliament recently passed an amendment to the orginal Act, Minerals and Mining Act, 2015 (Act 900), governing mining operations in Ghana and that the Act now provides stiffer punishment for illegal miners in the form of confiscation of mining equipment used in illegal mining as well as any minerals mined.
“Government intends to implement a system to track heavy duty equipment like excavators and bulldozers used in small scale mining operations to help identify and arrest illegal miners,” he said.
The Minister said government was also working at providing alternative livelihoods for the young people in the mining communities as part of the special presidential initiative to mitigate the socio-economic impact of mining on host communities.
He said so far a total of 35,000 acres of oil palm plantation have been established in the Western and Central Regions and this has led to the employment of 30,000 people.
He said the Mineral Development Fund Act, which received assent in March this year would help address developmental issues in mining communities and that the object of the Fund was to provide financial resources for the direct benefit of the communities.
Mr Mills said a fully-fledged computerized mining cadastral system was being developed for Ghana under a bilateral agreement with the Australian government and that system would ensure effectiveness, accountability and compliance in the management of mineral rights to boost investment.
It is expected that from 2017, investors could apply for mineral rights online, he explained.
On the general performance of the mining sector, the Minister said the industry was experiencing low commodity prices within the milieu of rising costs of production and that the industry operating environment was rapidly changing, a challenge for all stakeholders to stay on top.
He called on all stakeholders’ including government, civil society, communities and companies to play their respective roles to ensure a collective realization of the benefits that mining brings along its value chain.