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Feature Article of Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Columnist: Badu, K.

Re: ‘Mahama Warns Galamseyers’

During his visit to the Daboase Water Treatment Plant in the Mpohor Wassa East District of the Western Region, President John Mahama assured the security agencies of adequate support to flush out illegal miners across the country;(See: ‘Mahama warns ‘Galamseyers’;Ministry of Information/Ghanaweb.com, 26/02/2013).

According to the aforesaid article, President Mahama revealed that he is appalled to see people engaging in galamsey, and especially illegal mining that takes place in or near water bodies. “I am going to support the Security task force working to clear the miners, and I want to warn those foreigners and their local collaborators that we are going to chase them out", President Mahama warned.

President Mahama insisted that “foreigners are not allowed to engage in small-scale mining, warning that law must appropriately deal with any foreigner caught.”

I concur; foreigners are indeed not allowed to engage in small-scale mining in Ghana. But, the real side of the firearm is the small-scale mining sector is not being regulated properly;--the laws are not being enforced. For example, subject to subsections (1) (PNDCL 218) and (2) of section 75 of the Minerals and Mining Law, 1986 (PNDCL 153) and amended Act 2006(Act 703), no licence for small-scale gold mining operation shall be granted to any person who is not a citizen of Ghana. The question then is why the influx of foreign infiltrators in the small-scale mining sector and no one seems to care?

Yes, any person who without a licence granted by the regulatory bodies undertakes any small-scale gold mining operation contrary to (subsection 1) of section 1 of small-scale mining law; or acts in contravention of any other provision of small-scale mining law in respect of which an offence has not been prescribed, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.

More significantly, where a foreigner is convicted of an offence under this Law he, shall after paying the fine or serving any imprisonment imposed on him, be liable to deportation under section 13 of the Aliens Act, 1963 (Act 160).

Of course, we have expedient laws in place; however, we don’t seem to have ‘enforcers’ of the laws.

For instance, even though the small scale mining laws prohibit the use of large explosives, Chinese miners have been allowed to use unstructured methods, and at the same time supplying large explosive, rock crushers and other machines to local miners.

Indeed, a lot of people are complicit with the chaos in the small-scale mining sector.

For instance, although, the small-scale mining laws prohibit transfer of mining licences, some Ghanaians are bent on transferring the licences to their foreign minions while the sector regulator-Ghana Minerals Commission looks on unconcerned.

In actual fact, since the small-scale mining is capital intensive, some Ghanaians will continue to pass on the mining licences to their well-off foreign minions. If we indeed want to ‘flush out’ the foreign infiltrators in the small-scale mining sector, we must first institute harsh punishments for Ghanaians who pass on the mining licences to the ‘foreigners.

That said, the chiefs in the affected areas must also be reprimanded for the part they play in the illegal mining.

Apparently, some chiefs are in the habit of selling the mining lands to the illegal miners, although it is unlawful for any chief to do that. The real side of the firearm is the unpatriotic Chiefs are colluding with the ‘criminals’ to steal our natural resources. Therefore, it would only be fair to Ghanaians if such offending Chiefs are prosecuted accordingly.

Going forward, it is extremely important that the authorities come hard on the recalcitrant Ghanaians, including the lawless chiefs who are colluding with the foreigners.

Further still, Ghana Minerals Commission must Endeavour to provide the necessary education and training for the miners who are in receipt of the small scale mining licenses. The education and training must focus on the application of structured mining methods, the use of modern technology and safe mining practices.

More importantly, the small scale miners must be given training on the handling and disposal of the hazardous chemicals, such as cyanide and mercury.

“We cannot and must not disappoint our children, their children and their grand children!”

“We are not serious as a nation, are we?”

K. Badu, UK.

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