Hundreds of Small Scale Miners in Upper West have declared support for government to flush out illegal miners in the Region whose devastating activities have destroyed vast water bodies and large tracts of farmlands.
The miners also disassociated themselves from media publications by “faceless and unknown” mining group who had vowed not to cooperate with government after Operation Vanguard was launched by the military to tame the escalated situation.
The “unknown” group was reported to have dared the Chieftaincy Minister to bring soldiers to their galamsey sites.
Alhaj Abdullai Iddrisu, the Spokesperson for Upper West Regional Small Scale Miners Association, told reporters that: “We do not belong to that faceless group, we wish to disassociate ourselves from the pronouncements”.
He said such purported comments by the group indicated those small scale miners were out to destroy the environment and destabilise national peace, and praised efforts by government to sustain the fight against illegal galamsey
“We the Small Scale Miners in the Upper West Region wish to commend the government for the steps it has initiated to protect the environment, water bodies and to safeguard the ecological zone,” Alhaj Iddrisu said.
According to the Association, with 3000-5000 members, their decision to back government’s efforts was based on the fact that it had demonstrated ample commitment to create sources of livelihood and build capacities of indigenous businesses to provide vast employment avenues.
It however, appealed to government to expedite action on the road map for implementation of lifting the ban on small scale mining in the country to help reengage several of their jobless members who are feared to relapse into criminal activities.
“We want to appeal to the Minerals Commission to carry out geological mapping to assist in demarcating blocked out areas for artisanal and small scale mining in all mining areas in the country,” Alhaj Iddrisu said.
“We are law abiding citizens, it is our hope and belief that the government will put the right measures in place for the betterment of all in its efforts to protect the environment for present and future generations.”
The group also said they recognised Azumah Resources as a licensed mining company with concessions in Upper West, saying: “We want to stay within the confines of the law and operate as small scale miners”.
Mr Tofic Alhassan, an association member, said: “We bear no grudge with the people of Azumah Resources, we are only pleading and begging to work hand in hand with you for peaceful coexistence.”
Some members expressed frustrations about delay in implementing the road map for lifting the ban on small scale mining, arguing that those who “defied the state directive” are in bush mining while “we those law-abiding miners” are helpless and roaming without jobs.
Government, in 2017 suspended artisanal and small scale mining activities in the country to enable it come out with a comprehensive structure and regulation for sustainable mining.