The Government of Ghana wishes to provide an update on its fight against illegal and irresponsible mining. Contrary to suggestions by the main opposition party that the fight is a charade and in a final state of glaring defeat the fight has achieved significant, the fight has achieved significant results and is now moving into a new phase with the community mining program.
Prior to 2016, several attempts were made both in term of the carrot and stick approaches to minimize, if not eliminate, illegal activities in the small scale mining sector of Ghana’s economy.
However, a rather dramatic plunge into a dominance of illegal mining (Galamsey) led to wanton degradation of our lands and pollution of our water bodies which brought the activities into the national limelight. When it took over the reins of government in 2017, the NPP Government therefore had to act decisively to arrest the situation and craft a path for sanitizing the small scale mining regime. The commitment, bold and political will demonstrated by H.E. the President and his government in fighting in fighting this social menace, endeared the hearts of Ghanaians and called forth support from the broad masses, with Media and some civil society organizations championing a parallel campaign against illegal mining.
The Government’s commitment to the fight against illegal mining has continued to be unwavering.
Among the measures put in place by government were:
- The establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee against Illegal Mining (IMCIM), to deal with the crisis situation. This garnered the support needed and has been put on record as having largely halted and reversed the pollutions of the water bodies in quite a large part of the country, after about a year of its operations;
- The provision of required support for the operations of IMCIM
- A one and half year moratorium on all small scale mining to facilitate the identification of and dealing with illegal mining activities;
- Vetting of small scale miners to ensure they understand and would comply with the legal and regulatory requirements;
- operation vanguard which has attracted huge success as far as our lands and especially the turbidity of our water bodies are concerned
- Community mining scheme by which over a hundred registered cooperatives in Galamsey prone districts. The bulk of members of this mining cooperatives are made up of over 4000 trained artisanal mining graduands of UMaT. These graduands are to be assisted by the Minerals Commission to obtain portions of Blocked out areas within the Minerals cadastre for them to undertake sustainable mining practices.
- Adequate monitoring systems have been put in place which includes establishment of the District Mining Committees at the various mining districts. Additional regional, districts and satellites mining offices are being set up. This is to bring the regulator Minerals Commission closer to the artisanal/small scale miners and their communities. 220 mining guards have been trained with additional 280 waiting to be trained in order to man the above mentioned offices. Logistics, including Vehicles, Motorbikes, drones and mobile communication gadgets have been procured.
Specifically the fight has yielded results observable along various parameters including the following;
- Confiscation of over xxxx excavators nationwide and the banning of further importation of new excavators. It must be noted that excavators constitute the single most deadly equipment in galamsey operations. The confiscation of an estimated 80% and the banning of further imports alongside the geo-tracking of the legally mandated ones ensure that the preponderance of illegal mining has been curtailed.
- The openly visible illegal mining operations nationwide are no longer witnessed. Though some miscreants are believed to be still operating in far off forests, they continue to be pursued by the joint security teams regularly. The combined effect of clamping down on the previously unbridled activity AND the fact that now any potential operator does so at his own risk in hiding further evinces the success n clamping down on the previously unbridled activity.
- The regular reports of galamsey deaths visible on the media landscape are now a thing of the past. Indeed, the low safety standards generally associated with galamsey would have meant that if the fight had been unsuccessful, the rule of thumb will be the continued reports of deaths in galamsey pits regularly. This has seized signaling that the foundation activity has been significantly quelled.
- Additionally xxxx persons have been arrested and subjected to various sanctions all aimed at extinguishing their ability to continue with galamsey operations. These include deportations of foreign nationals involved and fining of locals as well. It is our belief that this too has been effective in curbing the ability of the kingpins to continue their operations.
The measures introduced were meant to bring the crisis to a manageable level, while institutions mandated to manage the sector are being capacitated to properly take over the management of the sector and the capacity of the small scale miners themselves being built up through structured programmes that have been developed. These are ongoing and the switch to the steady state operations is expected to take place shortly.
Alongside these measures, the legal framework is being streamlined and strengthened to serve as a deterrent to the illegal activities, while the court system is being streamlined to deal more expeditiously with illegal mining cases brought before them.
The more permanent approach being pursued to resolve the illegal mining menace is through the framework of the Multi Sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) – a LECITA model, which government approved in November 2017. It is a 5-year project with a budget of some USD200 million, for which a Project Appraisal and Implementation Document (PAID) has been developed and is assisting in raising the funding needed for its implementation.
Through the cross-sector as well as broad multi-stakeholder approach adopted by MMIP, the various agencies and other bodies expected to play key roles have already worked collaboratively to develop costed work plans as the basis for the PAID.
The success of the PAID has been demonstrated in the World Bank agreeing to work with it after having reviewed it. Indeed the World Bank has aligned its activities in respect of a proposed project for small scale mining in Ghana to the PAID. The World Bank has therefore proposed to support the MMIP with up to USD100 million.
Government is currently engaging with development partners to secure the remaining funding and the project will take off shortly, as a holistic project-based approach to deal with illegal small scale mining that has devasted our national landscape. as described.
Government’s commitment to fighting illegal mining while streamlining the management of the small scale mining sub-sector particularly, within the broad mining sector is on course; the results will begin to show shortly, as the project takes off.
Well-meaning Ghanaians and development partners continue to support Government efforts in this campaign.
It is therefore unwarranted for anyone to describe the fight against galamsey as a failed one and a betrayal of the trust of the Ghanaian people. The converse is rather the fact on the ground and the Government will continue to rely on the support of the public to deal with this menace that threatens the survival of our country.