The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) has called on government to increase deployment of security personnel to concessions of large-scale mining companies to clamp down on encroachment by illegal miners.
The General-Secretary of GMWU, Abdul-Moomin Gbana, said, currently, the companies were employing the services of private security guards who were not authorised to carry weapons for their operations.
The situation, he said, was putting mine workers across the country in harm’s way when they come across aggressive and armed illegal miners who have encroached on concessions.
He was speaking in Accra yesterday during a meeting between the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George MirekuDuker and executives of the GMWU to among others, discuss ways of collaborating with the Ministry to build a more robust mining sector.
Citing some recent attacks on mine workers, he said in July this year a worker at Newmont Ahafo Mine went missing for days while two other security guards deployed at the Company’s Apensu dewatering pond were also abducted around midnight that same month by six fully armed men and were subsequently found with their hands tied with rope in the bush.
Barely a year ago, he stated that, mine workers at Protea Coin witnessed very horrendous incidents including attacks on two mine workers who were shot which led to Joshua losing one eye whilst Robert sustained multiple injuries on the Newmont Ahafo site.
Again, at the same Newmont Ahafo site, he said three mine workers were also attacked with guns and cutlasses which led to Daniel sustaining multiple fractures on one leg whilst Mathew sustained several cutlass wounds on the head with the other struggling to recover from sustained multiple fractures on his right wrist.
To increase the country’s benefits from the mining sector, MrGbaana further urged government to increase its stake in the mining companies and create an enabling environment for the active participation of indigenous companies.
He said the current 10 per cent carrying interest arrangement was denying the country of the desired benefits from the sector in the face of dominance of foreign interest in the sector.
He said the country’s adoption and reliance on a “tax-royalty” fiscal regime had denied it of the benefits it could have derived from the mining sector all these years.
“Considering the generous fiscal givea ways (including excessive repatriation of mining revenues by multi-national businesses, signing of stability and development agreements, etc.) which continues to deny Ghana its fair share of revenue under this so-called tax-royalty fiscal regime, we believe that the time has come for this narrative to change and ought to change quite swiftly,” he stressed.
MrGbana said the country could change the narrative by effecting change in the ownership structure of mineral assets.
On his part, Mr Duker said government would not relent in ensuring that the various mining companies deepen the implementation of the local content policy in favour of indigenes of the communities they operate in.
“We wouldn’t want a situation where the mine or the concessionaire will elapse their mining life and get away without giving the hard working Ghanaians what they are due and this is what we want to frown on,” he stated.
He assured that the government would work with all stakeholders to improve security at mining sites across the country.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS