A workshop aimed at finalising the draft artisanal mining framework document developed by the Minerals Commission has been held in Accra.
The document being discussed for adoption as a blueprint to deal with issues relating to artisanal small scale mining in the country’s minerals sector has been developed to incorporate strategies to be implemented for the mining sector to support the implementation of activities to address challenges in the management of small scale mining in the country.
The small scale sector employs about 1,000,000 people in the country and in 2014 contributed about 34% of the total gold production in the country.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resource, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh speaking at the opening of the workshop in Accra explained that small scale mining has attracted global significance because of its potential contributions to sustainable livelihoods to countries with abundant mineral resources.
He said government recognises that small scale mining operations undertaken by Ghanaians offer opportunities top support rural livelihood, develop entrepreneurship and provide sources of industrial raw materials for the minerals and mining industry.
Mr. Akandoh observed that the artisanal small scale mining sector in spite of its contribution to the Ghanaian economy has in recent times faced numerous challenges in terms of regulation and management and that there have been calls for a comprehensive framework which will help manage the activities of the sector to ensure sustainable development.
“Indeed, the issues of small scale mining activities have moved from being a local community issue to both national and international one, because foreigners are also engaged in illegal small scale mining and the negative environmental impacts affect the whole country.”
Among some of the causes of illegal mining in the country, he explained include; inadequate geologically prospected lands for acquisition by small scale miners, lack of access to local micro-financing schemes to finance their operations, high gold price attracts more people go into illegal mining.
The challenges also include connivance of some Chiefs, Landlords and Opinion Leaders with the foreigners to operate in remote areas in the country, inadequate and less attractive than gold alternative livelihood opportunities.
“Illegal small scale mining is confronted with numerous environmental and social effects including, but not limited to, land degradation, water pollution, human health impacts such as dust, mercury, noise, crime, encroachment on large scale concessions resulting in social conflicts and a host of others.
“These effects are a threat to the country’s environmental integrity, food security, and our sustainable development agenda.
“It is therefore, important that we all bring our ideas on board to help managed the sector by putting in place the necessary framework that will help formalize the mining activities.”
Mr. Akandoh stated that the regulatory agencies responsible for managing the artisanal small scale mining cannot win the fight against illegal mining without the support and corporation of all the international donors who have contributed to the development of this framework.
Mr. Richard Kofi Afenu, Sectorial Policy and Planning Manager,Minerals Commission explained that the country appreciate the significant contribution of small scale mining activities to employment creation and improvement in economic activities in communities where these activities take place.
These positive impacts, however are quite often negated by certain negative tendencies bordering on socio-economic, environmental and technical issues.
Mr. Afenu explained that government continues to provide policy direction and support to the development of the mining sector.
He added that is also government’s policy to develop the small-scale mining industry to become as efficient as their large-scale counterparts and that the industry will become truly indigenous and self-reliant with most of its needs being serviced by local companies.
“As we invest our time and resources to address challenges facing the sub-sector, it will be irresponsible for any of us to condone illegal small scale mining in whatever form. This is because such operations are not sustainable and they pose serious health, environmental and security risks especially now that it has assumed a national dimension,” Mr. Afenu remarked.