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General News of Monday, 27 November 2000

Source: GNA

Mines Minister asks companies to release used concessions

Tarkwa (W/R), Nov. 27 , GNA--The Minister of Mines and Energy, Dr. John Abu on Saturday called on Mining Companies to release some of their prospected concessions which they find to be uneconomical for use by small-scale miners (Galamsey) who may find them profitable.

He made the call at the National Mines Safety Day celebration held at Tarkwa on the theme: "Talk and Practice Safety". He said Government is very much concerned about the lingering issue of small-scale mining in the mining communities, adding that the release of old mines would enhance government's efforts to stem the tide of galamsey activities. Dr. Abu thanked the Management of Goldfields Ghana Limited at Tarkwa for taking the initiative to hand over some of its used concessions back to the Government to be given to small scale miners.

He hoped that more of such gestures would be received from other mining companies.

Dr. Abu said one of such old mines given out to small scale operators has offered jobs to about 5,000 people and earned the nation 740 million dollars last year.

He said the formation of a national small-scale miners association has brought together all the legally registered small-scale miners and expressed the hope that mining companies would see the efforts of small-scale miners as beneficial and assist them to achieve their objective of eliminating illegal operators.

The Minister stressed the need for the mining companies to work closely with relevant agencies such as the Mineral Commission, Mines Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), District Assemblies and the local communities to ensure that the mining industry is firmly integrated in the local economy.

He advised the mining companies to develop health and safety educational programmes that will eventually become part of the work ethics for workers at all levels to reduce accidents.

In an address read on her behalf, Mrs. Esther Lily Nkansah, Western Regional Minister, asked the Mines Department, the mining companies and employees to collaborate to strengthen measures to prevent accidents, injuries, occupational illness.

She said developing safe attitude is the surest way to manage accidents.

Mr. B. O. Aidoo, President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines in an address read on his behalf said while the Chamber continues to operate within the legal framework regulating its production activities, Government should provide the necessary support to facilitate their work.

Ashanti Goldfields, Iduaprim was adjudged the best improved surface mining company while AGC, Obuasi won the best improved underground mining award.