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Business News of Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Source: B&FT

President pushes for responsible mining

President John Dramani Maham has tasked the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to ensure that mining is undertaken responsibly and meets communities’ needs and expectations.

This, he said, must create employment that matches its type, provides fair economic returns to the community, and protects the environment.

“Our mining sector needs substantial reform to ensure that we move toward economically and socially sustainable mining,” President Mahama said in his first State of the Nation Address to law-makers which is captured under the theme “Advancing the Better Ghana-Opportunities for Growth”.

Touching on illegal mining operations, President Mahama announced that government will rigidly enforce the laws of the country by addressing the illegal invasion of foreigners in the small?scale mining sector.

“This problem has been fully investigated, and we have concluded that there is unacceptable collusion between some Ghanaians and these foreigners to circumvent our laws.

“A series of decisive measures are underway to purge the system and better regulate small-scale mining in order to create and sustain employment, primarily for Ghanaians,” the president said.

The President’s decision on purging the illegal mining sector has come at a time when the Minerals Commission, the sector’s regulator, is seeking to amend existing small-scale mining laws to impose stiffer punishment on any individual that engages in illegal mining.

Presently, the law stipulates that anyone who engages in illegal small-scale mining be fined 14,000 penalty units. A unit is valued at GH¢12. “Efforts will be made to seek amendment of the law to enhance the level of punishment.

“We think that insufficient sanction in the laws covering illegal mining is part of the problem. “We are proposing that illegal mining should be made an offence, and that the punishment should not be a fine but offenders must be made to serve a jail-term without bail.

“We want the equipment used by the illegal miners to be confiscated to the state,” Mr. Ben Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, disclosed to the Business and Financial Times after a media briefing in Accra.

So far, Chinese, Indians, Russians, Spaniards, Burkinabes and other West African nationals have been found involved in the illegal mining business.

“Some of our chiefs go to the extent of taking as low as GH¢20.00 before illegally awarding lands to these foreign illegal miners operating in their areas.”

Mr. Aryee expressed regret at the various Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs), as well as the resource-rich communities, for doing little to assist the Commission and other regulatory bodies to arrest the foreigners engaged in illegal mining.

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