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Only 20% small-scale miners operate legally - Commission
Posted on: 14-Jun-2013         Source: GNA
Only 20 per cent of operators engaged in the small-scale mining activities in the country are operating within the confines of the law, the Minerals Commission has said.

Mr Nelson Ahedor, a Principal Mining Engineer at the Commission, said 80 per cent of operators were engaging in illegal activities and there was the need to streamline their activities to save the environment and derive maximum benefits from the sector.

Aside the employment of about one million people directly in the sector, small-scale mining was currently contributing about 34 per cent of gold production, he said.

Speaking at a public forum on small-scale mining in Ghana on Wednesday, Mr Ahedor said the country was at the verge of crisis and there was the urgent need to take drastic action to curb the chaotic situation and streamline activities in the sector.

He explained that even though some operators had been licensed to undertake small-scale mining, most of them were operating outside the law.
For instance it is illegal to undertake mining activities in forest reserves, water bodies and wetland sites designated as “no go areas” for mining yet some registered operators violated this and even operated in residential areas, he said.
Mr Isaac Osei, Ashanti Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the proliferation of “galamsey” operators and the influx of foreign nationals engaged in the illegal activities were posing serious threats to the environment and national security.
He said regulators were not against small-scale mining but concerned about the illegal activities which were having negative impact on the environment.

Mr Osei suggested the need for the government to show greater political commitment in solving the problem.

He stressed the need to take a second look at the processes and procedures in the issuance of licenses and permits to make it easy for people to acquire permits to operate as small-scale miners.

Mr Kofi Boateng, a small-scale miner, mentioned bureaucracy in acquiring licenses and permits, demands from traditional authorities, extortions by some security agencies, and payment of compensation as some of the challenges facing operators in the sector.

He said small-scale mining was contributing substantially to the national economy in terms of direct and peripheral employment and called for support to sustain the sector.

Dr Yao Graham, Executive Director of Third World Network, organizers of the forum, said the issue of environmental degradation which had generated a lot of debate in recent times seemed to criminalize small-scale mining.
He said there was the need for passionate discussion on the sector to ensure that the nation derived maximum benefits from it.