Ghana government urged to widen net on illegal mining
Government has been urged not to concentrate solely on illegal small scale mining (Galamsey) activities but widen its scope to include activities of legally registered mining companies in its determination to control mining activities in the country.
Whilst commending government for taking bold steps to stop illegal small scale miners for their intolerance to the environment and water bodies, the Executive Director of the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), Mr Bismark Ayorogo, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga, said there were equally many legal mining companies in the country whose operations were more damaging to the environment than the illegal small scale mining.
The Executive Director said NORPRA as a Civil Society Organization was very worried about the weakness in the provisions of the Minerals and Mining Laws, Act 703, 2006, which he noted had given so much power to mining companies to exploit and abuse the environment.
He cited for instance parts of the provisions which gave so much power to mining companies especially foreign ones to obtain, impound and divert underground water for mining activities and called on Parliament to review the law.
Mr Ayorogo mentioned that another area that was usually abused by many mining companies in Ghana was the United Nation Declaration of Human Dignity, which states that before a mining company undertakes its operations in a community, it must first and foremost seek the consent of the community, based on the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principle before mining exploration.
This, he noted, often gave room for the community members to assess the economic and social impact of mining before allowing mining companies to mine, and indicated that these obligatory instructions and rules were often ignored.
He indicated that what made the situation worse was that many mining companies do not pay fair and adequate compensation as required by law to communities after destroying their livelihoods leaving the communities to remain in perpetual poverty.
The Executive Director who called on other CSOs to lend their support to government to help fight the menace expressed regret that the Upper East Region, which was being engulfed by the desert was also affected by illegal small scale mining activities which needed to be looked at.
He indicated that research had shown that the social and economic cost caused by mining far outweighed the benefit of mining, adding that research conducted by the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission in 2005 and 2009 indicated that game (bush meat) trade generated annual turnovers of about $300 million and $350 million respectfully which were far more than what was realized by the mining sector during the same period.