Government is exploring seven areas, approximately 354 square kilometres in size, to determine their suitability for small-scale mining operations, Mike Hammah, Lands and Natural Resources Minister, has disclosed.
He revealed this during a presentation on the topic “Streamlining Small-Scale Mining: The Menace of Galamsey”, at a dialogue session of the Western Regional Policy Fair.
“Improving the small-scale mining sub-sector requires the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders, who I entreat to get on board because remaining passive is no longer an option. We must all be watchful and report activities of illegal miners to the appropriate authorities,” he said.
“To address the illegal mining challenges, the Small Scale Mining Law 1089 (PNDCL 218) has been repealed by the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703). Government has also strengthened metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies through the establishment of environmental committees to build the requisite capacity to curb illegal mining.
“We have also maintained mineral right (licence) acquisition fees for small-scale mining at low levels. This is meant to serve as a motivation for illegal miners to formalise their operations.”
Mr. Hammah said the government is concerned about the rising spate of illegal mining activities in the country.
He said there should be provision of equipment and financial support to legal small-scale mining cooperatives to assist them improve their operations and encourage illegal miners to regularise their activities.
The mining industry accounts for about 7% of the country’s GDP, and mineral exports make up 41% of total merchandise export.
The sector is one of the largest contributors to government revenue through the payment of mineral royalties, employee income tax and corporate taxes.
Over the past decade, the sector has consistently been the highest gross foreign exchange earner, currently providing about 17.5% of the country’s earnings and 27.6% of government revenue.
It employs 28,000 people in the large-scale sector and mine-support services, whereas over one million people are engaged in small-scale mining of gold and diamonds and in sand-wining and quarry activities.
Small-scale miners contributed 23% and 27.2% respectively of total national gold production in 2010 and 2011. Currently, all the diamonds produced in Ghana are by artisanal small-scale miners.