This year’s small-scale mining awards have been launched in Accra with a charge on operators to support government’s efforts to clamp down on illegal mining.
Among the categories to be awarded are Best Female Small-Scale Miner, Best Male Small-Scale Miner, Best Small-Scale Miner in Environmental Stewardship, Best Small-Scale Miner in Corporate Social Responsibility, Best Gold Exporter, Best Metropolitan/Municipal or District Chief Executive and Best Traditional Leader.
Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, who launched it said, the awards formed parts of initiatives by government to promote legal and responsible small scale mining.
Slated for December, he noted that, the awards was aimed at making responsible and legal mining more attractive to Ghanaians who wants to venture into small scale mining.
“This is part of the government and the Ministry’s efforts to sanitise the small-scale mining industry and make it more attractive.
“As much as we work to clamp down on illegal mining, there is the need for a conscious effort to also promote legal and responsible small scale mining. This is the rationale behind the Responsible Small Scale Mining Awards,” MrJinapor stated.
Contrary to perceptions by some critics that the current government was against small-scale mining, he said, the government recognises small-scale mining as key component of the country’s mining regime and was determined to sanitise it through regulatory enhancement and engagement of all stakeholders.
“Although this sector has been bedeviled with many practices with adverse impact on the country’s river bodies, landscape and forest cover, it is also an important sector that contributes up to 40 per cent of the country’s gold output and therefore government is very mindful of the sector, ensuring that it is well managed,” he added.
In this regard, the Minister noted that, government instituted a number of activities including the national and regional dialogue, Operation Halt, Community Mining Scheme, distribution of mercury-free Gold processing machine, among others, aimed at fighting the menace.
The Ministry, he said, deemed it necessary to also reward and promote responsible small scale miners and recognise operators for playing a part in tackling illegal mining and improving the industry.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Small-scale Miners Association, Mr GodwinArmah commended the government for introducing the awards scheme saying that it was an incentive to the small-scale miners to work sustainably.
He noted that the initiatives being carried out showed how government valued the small-scale mining sector and its contribution to national development.
Mr Armah appealed for the support of government toward the Association’s project fight illegal small scale mining on the Birim River.
The National Small-Scale Mining Awards is a brainchild of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources which seek to celebrate those who adhere to the health, safety and environmental standards guiding their mining operations.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS