Members of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) would be trained together with some journalists on sustainable mining practices as part of Government’s effort to address the challenge of illegal mining.
The training, scheduled to take-off between July and August would involve batches of miners and journalists who would be hosted at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) at Tarkwa in the Western Region.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), who announced the training programme on Wednesday at a press conference, said Government has provided an initial fund of GH¢500,000 to kick-start the training.
He said a total of 50 small scale miners including mine owners, miners and 25 journalists would constitute the first batch of the close to 1,000 targeted miners and journalists to be trained.
The Minister said the miners would be trained on how to “extract gold without using mercury” since the use of mercury was going to be banned in the country in fulfilment of the Minnesota Convention that Ghana had signed onto.
Journalists, who have played critical role in the campaign against illegal mining, would also be trained to appreciate the issues of mining and help educate the public and communities on the need to preserve the environment.
He said the use of mercury in mining over the years has polluted many river bodies in the country and even that of neighbouring Ivory Coast while endangering the sustainability of the environment.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said due to the activities of illegal miners, about seven per cent of Ghana’s land mass was polluted and all the major rivers except the Volta Lake, had been polluted.
He said the stance taken by the government was all about the illegality in the mining sector with some miners abandoning the mining site without reclaiming the land.
He called on mining concession owners to go back to reclaim the abandoned mining land.
The Minister, however, noted that there were some small scale miners who were following the right processes in their mining activities and it was unfortunate that they had been affected by the moratorium on all activities of small scale miners for the time being.
Mr Godwin Amarh, General Secretary of GNASSM, commended government for the offer to help train the miners in sustainable mining and expressed the members’ readiness to collaborate in sanitizing the mining sector.
He said members have gone round to arrest and destroy more than 3,000 dredgers but a lot more were still on the river beds and that would require government assistance through the Navy to help in taking them off the river bodies.
He called on the government to consider restoring the licensed small scale miners affected by the moratorium back to their work after the six months period.
Ms Carol Annang, Managing Director of New Times Corporation, who is also a member of the Media Coalition against Illegal Mining, commended government for showing courage and sustaining the momentum in the fight against illegal mining.
She urged the media to continue to be the voice of the voiceless being affected due to the illegal activities of the miners.
She called on them to report on the good practices of some of the miners who were following the mining regulations in their areas of operation saying not all miners were engaged in illegal activities.