Sustaining fight against ‘Galamsey’

The three-week ultimatum given to operators of illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamasey,’ to stop their activities, ended last Thursday, with a clear message that government is poised to protect the country’s water bodies and environment.

The action was aimed at halting all illegal mining, until a more sustainable way of extraction of gold and other minerals is developed.

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Peter Amewu, in an interview with The Ghanaian Times at Adani in Ketu South District of the Volta Region, noted that the ultimatum had being successful as more than 160 excavators, used for the illegal mining, have been moved from the various sites.

He said that statistics from the Precious Minerals Marketing Company indicated a decrease in the sale of small-scaled gold to the company.

Mr Amewu explained that government is not against small scale mining, but would not allow operators of that sector to pollute water bodies and destroy the environment.

However, he raised the expectations of those who intend to remain in the mining sector, by giving the assurance that that government has plans to develop a framework that would allow Ghanaians to mine in a more sustainable manner.

Undoubtedly, the campaign against ‘galamsey’ is receiving support as it is carrying along its trail, the media, civil society groups, schools, chiefs, churches, security agencies among others.

The Judiciary has also joined the fight against illegal mining, by dedicating a court to deal with mining offences.

A statement signed by Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, Judicial Secretary, said “The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood has designated seven high courts and seven circuit courts, across the country to deal with all mining offences”.

Additionally, the initiative has attracted international acclamation. M. Ami Mehl, Israeli Ambassador to Ghana in a statement, said that his country is ready to support Ghana to recover from environmental degradation, indicating that “The exploration of one natural resource should not become a death sentence to forest, water bodies and the life they support.”

Clearly, this is not the first time we are initiating a fight against illegal mining in the country. The formation of an inter-ministerial task force by the previous government to fight ‘galamsey’ is fresh in our minds.

The group was tasked to seize equipment, arrest both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, who engage in ‘galamsey,’ deport non-Ghanaians engaged in the practice and revoke license of Ghanaians, who have sub-leased their mining concessions to non-Ghanaians, but all to no avail.

Indeed, the forces behind illegal mining are more sophisticated and powerful than we can imagine, as opinion leaders, including chiefs and politicians, and their foreign collaborators, are involved in the practice.

The Times appeals to all stakeholders to come together and find a permanent solution to illegal mining, to protect our water bodies and environment.

This is the only way to prove the ‘Doubting Thomases,’ who consider the current campaign against illegal mining, as another nine-day wonder, wrong.

Posterity will not forgive us if we fail to accomplish this task!

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