‘Galamsey’ on the decrease

Toni AubynnILLEGAL small-scale mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, is now on the decrease, says Dr. Tony Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission.

He attributed the development to awareness creation and appropriate security measures put in place to curb the menace.

Speaking to The Ghanaian Times in an interview in Accra, Dr. Aubynn said most ‘galamsey’ operators were now applying for concessions instead of engaging in the illegal practice.

“Last year, the government tasked a team to address the illegalities in the mining industry since the activities of illegal miners were harmful and I must say that the exercise was successful,” he said.

The Mining and Mineral Law, he said, made it clear that small-scale mining should be the preserve of Ghanaians but unfortunately, Ghanaians turned to undertake illegal mining and brought on board foreigners.

“Mining on a small scale basis was a viable and desirable economic activity that provided livelihood for the indigenes and should be the preserve for the development of this great nation,” he said.

Dr. Aubynn said a bill for the amendment of the Mining and Minerals Law, Act 703 2006 for a stiffer punishment to illegal miners had been laid before parliament for consideration.

He said the amended law would ensure that miners were not only fined but also jailed to serve as a deterrent to others.

Dr. Aubynn said illegal miners, if arrested would be fined 5,000 penalty units (GH¢60,000) or imprisonment if a Ghanaian while foreign culprits would be fined 17,000 penalty units (GH¢204,000) or imprisonment.

Furthermore, he said, the law would provide for confiscation of all equipment used by perpetrators to the state.

“As at now, the law only imposes on such a culprit 4,000 penalty units which they pay without any difficulty. So if the law is hard on them by jailing and confiscating their machines, they would think twice before engaging in the act,” he said.

Dr. Aubynn said his outfit would this year register and track excavators to enable the Commission to easily track them when used for illegal mining and prosecute the owners.

In another development, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana has paid a familiarisation visit to the Commission to further strengthen co-orporation between Ghana and China in the mining industry and to assist in efforts to address challenges facing the industry.

By Agnes Opoku Sarpong  

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