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Encourage locals to venture into legal small-scale mining - Prof. Sawyerr
Posted on: 24-Jun-2013         Source: thebftonline.com
There is a need to encourage local illegal miners to venture into small-scale mining under a more legalised system to help do away with the many destructive activities currently going on, Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, Chairman of Government Mining Review and Negotiation Team, has said.

He, therefore, charged Civil Society groups interested in natural resources management to partner Government to make small-scale mining a viable option for illegal Ghanaian miners.

Prof. Sawyerr was speaking at the Fourth Annual Civil Society Review of the natural resources and environment sector in Ghana last week.

“Civil society and all stakeholders should support the government to develop a proper mining policy as part of a general national development plan that would help finance and train local illegal miners to push them into small-scale mining.

“Government should be compelled to locate the mining policy in a broad national development plan… we should work out the cost in mining economically and environmentally, and make choices as to whether to go into mining or not,” he said.

The annual review meeting was an initiative of KASA Ghana, a civil society support mechanism that aims to promote evidence-based research and advocacy in the natural resource and environment sector.

The three-day meeting, therefore, serves as a platform for policy-review and coordinated engagements in the natural resources sector.

Prof. Sawyerr said Ghana in the past had “not done enough in our negotiations concerning our natural resources”, adding “we are now doing something slowly to correct the situation”.

Ms. Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, said key challenges confronting the sector are effective law enforcement and policy implementation at all levels to combat the menace of land degradation, illegal chainsaw operations and illegal mining activities.

She asked civil society to continue to dialogue with Government to ensure sustainable development and management of Ghana’s natural resources.

“Let me assure civil society that Government values your participation and input in the natural resources and environment sector.

“Indeed, we expect civil society, organised labour and the media to hold Government accountable to its commitment -- and also contribute innovative ideas and practical solutions for addressing the challenges confronting the NRE sector,” the Minister said.

Mr. Zakaria Yakubu, KASA Coordinator, explained that the platform will serve as an information sharing and learning avenue for stakeholders, and to review status and progress in Natural Resource and Environmental (NRE) Governance.

The over-100 representatives of state and non-state actors are also to examine the perspective of civil society on the natural resources sector, and analyse key achievements, gaps, challenges and recommendations for priority actions.

Mr. Richard Ellimah, member of the National Coalition on Mining, said apart from the Chinese, many foreign nationals such as Americans and Spanish are all into illegal mining against the mining laws.

He urged the state to make deliberate efforts to ensure that many Ghanaians are involved in small-scale mining.

“I emphasised the need to design mining policy that enforces the mining laws, as well as a polluter- pays policy that will oblige a company to pay for polluting the environment,” he said.