Government has introduced new measures in a renewed commitment in the fight against illegal small-scale mining popularly called galamsey.
The new measures include concurrent deployment of soldiers in the southern, central and northern sectors of the country and targeting bankrollers to fight illegal small-scale mining.
In addition, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed that henceforth no mining concession or license should be granted to any applicant unless the paramount chief of the area is formally consulted to seek his input.
Additionally, the regional ministers and metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) of that particular jurisdiction should also be formally consulted to bring their views to bear on the granting of mining concessions to any individual or company.
In view of the President’s directive, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, has issued a Ministerial Fiat to the Minerals Commission to halt all processes leading to the recommendation for granting of mining concessions and licences until the Commission has sought the inputs of the authorities.
He announced these yesterday at a media briefing in Accra to update the public on new measures being implemented by the government to combat illegal small-scale mining, otherwise known as “galamsey”.
Concurrent deployment of soldiers
Unlike the previous military operations which take three months, Mr Jinapor said the new military campaign will be sustained until the galamsey menace is brought to a satisfactory situation.
Significant funds allocated
He announced that the government has allocated significant funds and logistical support for the operation being spearheaded by Operation Halt II.
Consulting paramount chiefs
The directive to consult paramount chiefs had become necessary to ensure the traditional and local authorities played a central role in the fight against illegal small-scale mining, which had wreaked havoc on the environment and water bodies.
When the President met the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi recently, the chiefs raised concerns about being sidelined in the issuance of mining licences and granting of concessions to individuals.
Therefore, whenever there was illegal mining within their traditional areas, they had no power to stop it because they did not play any meaningful part in the granting of the licences.
Mr Jinapor said with the enforcement of the Ministerial Fiat, traditional rulers and MMDCEs would play a central role in the fight against galamsey.
According to the Minister, this directive does not mean that the Commission must seek the consent of the chiefs, but rather involve them in the decision-making process to forestall the tensions and suspicions which exist between the communities and the companies.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources called for change of attitudes and collaboration with all stakeholders to help win the fight against galamsey.
He urged the media to constantly educate and sensitise the public on the adverse effects of galamsey and various diseases such as kidney problems and Buruli ulcers affecting inhabitants in the mine areas.
Gamut of measures implemented so far
The Minister highlighted a gamut of measures implemented so far to stop the galamsey menace including the procurement of speed boats to patrol rivers, training of river guards, forest reserves declared as “red zones” for mining and distribution of mercury-free gold processing machines (gold kachas) to small-scale miners.
Collaboration between the Lands Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Office to prosecute illegal miners, both Ghanaians and foreigners, rolling out of Community Mining Schemes for local people, recruitment and engagement of about 80,000 people for alternative livelihood programme, frequent operations by the military (Operation Halt) to mining sites to arrest and burn excavators belonging to illegal miners and setting up of 83 district mining committees to oversee mining at the district level.
Jinapor pledged the total and unflinching support of the President and the Ministry towards fighting the galamsey menace, with integrity and transparency without shielding anybody, irrespective of one’s political affiliation or standing in the society.
Going after bankrollers
He also stated government’s desire to go after the bankrollers of the galamsey activities, noting that apprehending the miners does very little to stop the menace once and for all.
The Minister said, “if you go after these barons and kingpins who are funding these things, then your work is done.”
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