Feature Article of Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Columnist: Badu, K.
: Ghana Minerals Commission Is Not Doing Enough
As a matter of fact, the activities of the illegal miners have deleterious effect on our environment. Thus, the prudent cause of action is for all the stakeholders to work in synergy and stop the unscrupulous miners.
Small-scale mining may be seen as poverty alleviation, however, the way it is being done at the moment, it does not look promising, -- it is simply ill-favoured. For instance, in spite of the fact that by law, only Ghanaians are allowed to obtain mining licenses for small-scale mining operations, “thousands” of Chinese immigrants are working in the small scale mining sector in Ghana whiles the sector regulator—Ghana Minerals Commission looks on nonchalantly.
“The involvement of the Chinese has changed the dynamics of small-scale mining,” the head of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said in an interview. “They use bulldozers, pay loaders and really heavy machinery. They have in fact mechanized artisanal mining and as a result the level of environmental devastation is huge.”
Ironically, some greedy and obnoxious Ghanaians are conniving with the Chinese illegal miners to ‘steal’ our natural resources. “Often, Ghanaians secure plots of land and partner with Chinese who have funds to “bring in the bulldozers and all the other big equipment, and then they go in some sort of working arrangement with the local miners.”
I think those nation wreckers are suffering from inferiority complex. Otherwise, how can they assist illegal immigrants to forcibly dig our natural resources, terrorise the rural dwellers and then wreck the environment? Think, for your actions will be consigned to posterity.
Apparently, there are laws which govern the small scale mining in Ghana. So why are we not enforcing such laws? Without mincing words, I will dare say that a number of organisations are complicit with the mess in the small-scale mining.
For example, we have Ghana Minerals Commission whose responsibilities include the enforcement of the rules and regulations--the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703). The Act clearly requires any person wanting to engage in any form of mining to obtain the requisite licence from the Minister responsible for Mines.”
Moreover, the holders of mineral rights and licences are by law required to obtain the necessary approvals and permits from the appropriate quarters, such as Environmental Protection Agency; Forestry Commission, where forests are involved; and Water Resources Commission, where water is involved, before the Miners can commence operation.
With hindsight, the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006(Act 703), places a duty on the aforementioned organisations to work in synergy to ensure that the existing miners’ and the prospective Miners adhere to various regulations. With such synergistic policies in place, why the mess in the small scale mining sector?
At present, it appears that nobody is policing the small scale mining sector. It is obvious that the people who are in receipt of the small scale mining concessions are not privy to the laws which govern the sector. This explains why Ghanaians who are in receipt of small-scale mining concessions transfer the licences to their Chinese minions. It is a worrying situation. Indeed, some people are not doing what is expected of them.
For example, 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.
Of course, the influx of genuine tourists is good for our burgeoning economy. But, we should not be encouraging immigrants who harbour ulterior motives. I do not begrudge Chinese immigrants and any other persons who want to travail in Ghana legally. For, I, like many foreign based Ghanaians, have modestly lived, worked and schooled in United Kingdom, so I will be the first person to show reciprocity by welcoming other immigrants into my country of birth. However, my understanding is: ‘When you are in Rome, you must do what the Romans do’. In other words, you must conform to the laws of the land. For instance, where I am,-- travailing to meliorate my life, if you choose to commit a heinous crime as an immigrant, you would be imprisoned and sent back to your country of birth after serving your term. With this in mind, how many people would dare?
It is in the light of this that I detest the Chinese immigrants’ shenanigans, -- illegally mining the natural resources and degrading the environment in Ghana.
K. Badu, UK.