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Opinions of Saturday, 26 August 2017

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

All mining companies in Ghana must operate within the regulatory framework

Illegal miners Illegal miners

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. Perhaps that is why out of every disaster slso comes some measure of good. Out of Ibrahim Mahama's current troubles perhaps Ghanaian society will finally find a way to deal effectively with errant companies in the mining sector.

Regarding the challenges now facing him, it has now become clear to many fair-minded Ghanaians that the system is being manipulated by some of the most ruthless of the hardliners in the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to enable them destroy the businesses built up over the years by Ibrahim Mahama. Pity.

Talk about greed and envy gone bonkers. Luckily for our country, their behind-the-scene manuevering has brought into the open (and is now etched deeply in the subconscious minds of many ordinary Ghanaians) the regulatory requirements that gold mining companies actually have to meet in order to legally obtain mining permits.

Furthermore, members of the so-called small-scale miners association will now find it difficult to dupe the communities in which they operate - as the more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media will always demand that the industry's regulators ought to ensure that environmentally irresponsible companies clean up their act, so to spesk, and operate within the sector's regulatory framework, going forward into the future.

One also hopes that the media have duly taken note of all the regulatory requirements outlined yesterday by the deputy minister for lands and natural resources, Hon. Benito Owusu Bio, which what is said to be a mining company in which Abrahim Mahama's wife is a director, Exton Cubic Group Limited, has apparently failed to fulfil - thus leading to the company being prevented from entering the concession granted it at Nyinahin.

Henceforth, the media ought to use the selfsame criteria that critics of the government insist are now being used to hound Ibrahim Mahama's company for every mining company in Ghana when ascertaining whether or not they are operating within the Minerals and Mining (Amendment ) Law, 2014. The object of the law is to amend the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).

And when communities affected by mining approach the media for help in fighting errant mining companies, the yardsticks now being deployed against Exton Cubic and Engineers & Planners are the same ones used in ascertaining whether or not such companies are in compliance with all the regulations and laws governing mining in Ghana.

Above all, the media ought to find out precisely how many mining companies (large and small and legal and illegal) in Ghana currently meet all those requirements as we speak - and, on behalf of the good people of Ghana, demand that all categories of mining companies, local and foreign, must be prevented from further degrading the natural environment until all the above requirements - especially ratification by Parliament of mining licenses - are met.

We shall then see whether or not the many rogues in the so-called small-scale mining sector (a misnomer if ever there was one - as mining with excavators is mining on an industrial scale by rogues who invariably always mine far in excess of the stipulated maximum 25 acres allotted to them by regulators) will continue agitating for government to let them resume gang-raping Mother Nature again.

To protect the natural environment, no mining company in Ghana - large or small, foreign or local - must ever be allowed by society to flout the regulations and laws contained in the amended Mining Act without the appropriate sanctions being applied by the authorities against them.

Henceforth, the media must ensure that the regulatory bodies compel all mining companies in Ghana to operate strictly within the regulatory framework in the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Law, 2014, which amended the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) to enable the minister for mines to seize the equipment and accoutrement's used by illegal miners. Full stop. Haaba.