Govt set to lift small scale mining ban …after implementation of roadmap

Prof Frimpong Boateng addressing the media.Photo Seth Osabukle

Prof Frimpong Boateng addressing the media.Photo Seth Osabukle

About 1,350 registered artisanal and small-scale mining companies are to be vetted and verified as part of a roadmap leading to the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining.

 

The ban, which has been in force since April 1 last year, is expected to be lifted by December 2018, if the roadmap developed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining is fully implemented.

 

Speaking at the ‘Meet the Press’ series in Accra, yesterday to outline the roadmap, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, said the vetting and verification would commence on September 3.

 

The exercise, he said would involve the inspection of mining licences, environmental and operating permits, Tax Identification Number (TIN), company registration details as well as other valid related documents.

 

He explained that boundaries of all artisanal and small-scale mining concessions would also be set out and mapped using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and drone technology to verify their existence and accuracy and further provide a baseline for all mining concessions while the location of each concession would be linked to the Ghana Post GPS address system.

 

According to him, successfully vetted artisanal and small-scale mining companies and entities would be issued with identification cards (ID cards) which contain the company’s Ghana Post code and licence validity information while signpost to indicate ownership, size of concession and Ghana Post GPS address would be erected at the concession of the company.

 

As part of the roadmap, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng stated that all earth-moving equipment for small-scale mining would be registered and have a tracking device installed under the supervision of regional ministers prior to the vetting of the companies.

 

The Water Resource Commission, as part of their mandate, he said would be required to monitor the quality status of water bodies affected by the activities of illegal mining in the South Western River system which include Pra, Ankobra, Tano and Bia River Basins.

 

Despite uncertainties as to when the ban on small-scale mining would be lifted, the minister noted that government plans to effectively implement the roadmap that would sanitise mining activities in the country and ultimately lift the ban before December this year.

 

He explained that key amongst the plan was the intensification of monitoring, compliance and enforcement of small-scale mining regulations adding that the ‘GALAMSTOP’ software for collecting data on mining activities, the establishment of 15 satellite offices and the deployment of drones and tracking systems as well as 540 mining guards to satellite offices were to support in improving regulatory operations.

 

Consequently, the George Grant University in Tarkwa was undertaking training of more than 200 drone pilots and data analysts to assist the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, district committees on illegal mining, Operation Vanguard and the Minerals Commission in the fight against the canker, the minister added.

 

Further to this, he said a total of 26 pick-up vehicles, of which 12 were already in use, had been procured for use in the districts by 144 graduates trained on the use of ‘GALAMSTOP’ under the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) programme to assist the mining committees in monitoring illegal mining activities.

 

Small-scale miners, as part of their roles in the roadmap, he stated were expected to reclaim at least 30 per cent of areas already mined within each concession within six months after the ban has been lifted and sign a code of conduct to guide their operations.

 

He said till date, about 1,400 illegal miners have been arrested while 614 excavators, 1,557 water pumping machines, 84 vehicles, 82 motorcycles, 5,739 ‘Chang Fan’ dredging mining equipment, 112 arms and 2,359 ammunitions have been confiscated.

 

To consolidate efforts to root out illegal mining from the country, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the roadmap focused on public sensitisation on the negative impact of illegal mining and urged the public to offer their support in that regard.

 

Mr. Obed Osei Boakye, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners, said despite the delays in the lifting of the ban, the association was fully committed to support the implementation of the roadmap.

 

He said the group would ensure that members comply with the directive for all equipment to be moved to designated areas for installation of tracking devices and make available their documents and details for verification.

 

A visibly angry miner from Prestea, Emmanuel Quarmi, said the ban had brought untold hardship on small-scale miners and disrupted local economies which depended on mining and called on government to urgently lift the ban.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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