President Akufo-Addo has hinted of government’s plans to announce a comprehensive roadmap to lift the ban on small-scale mining to deal permanently with ‘galamsey,’ which poses a threat to the nation.
The roadmap, according to the President, would involve the reclamation and re-afforestation of mined-out areas, restoration of impacted water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licences and associated permits and the establishment of a mercury pollution abatement project, among others.
It would also ensure the implementation of alternative livelihood projects, systematic control of the engagement of excavators and changfans in mining areas and continued formalisation and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.
In that direction, he disclosed that the government has succeeded in training 600 small-scale miners, popularly known as ‘galamseyers’ in sustainable methods at George Grant University of Mines and Technology, formerly UMaT in Tarkwa.
President Akufo-Addo, who made the disclosure at a sensitization workshop for traditional and religious leaders and stakeholders on the elimination of illegal mining in Ghana in Accra yesterday, indicated that 1,500 people are also receiving training in sustainable mining practices.
He pointed out that though some success had been chalked in the fight against illegal mining in the country, there is still more room for improvement.
We all have a duty to say no to ‘galamsey’ for our own common survival and the survival of those who are to come,
if we allow it, we are jeopardising both our present and our future. This cannot be overemphasised,
The President said that because of the difficulties the nation had gone through in recent years, some persons had decided to adopt unorthodox means, including galamsey, to keep body and soul together.
Primarily, in dealing with the situation, the Akufo-Addo administration had set up, at the Cabinet level, an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, with Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, as the chair.
The Committee, at the commencement of its work, recommended an initial six-month ban on small-scale mining activities, a request, which was assented to by the President.
The ban has since been extended.
Government, the President announced, gave directives to the Committee to carry out certain activities to bring sanity to the artisanal gold mining sector, including the launch of Operation Vanguard; training of small-scale miners in sustainable mining methods at the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa; and regular interactions between the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the Small-Scale Miners Association to draft a Code of Practice for small-scale mining operations.
President Akufo-Addo added that the formation of District Mining Committees against illegal mining with clearly defined terms of reference; and the deployment of satellite imagery and drone technology to monitor the mining activities of illegal miners had been undertaken by the Committee.
Government also ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, as the 40th State Party. The objective of the Minamata Convention is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions, and releases of mercury and mercury compounds into the environment,
President Akufo-Addo expressed his appreciation to the country’s revered religious leaders, and eminent chiefs and queen mothers, for the support they had offered, and continue to offer in the fight against ‘galamsey.’
I was in the Western Region for a three-day tour a little over a week ago, and I was comforted by the strong remarks of support by the chiefs I encountered, who attested to the marked improvement in the vegetation and the quality of the water bodies in comparison to the situation a year ago,