Government has been urged to strengthen and enforce the mining laws and regulations to promote effective community participation to help prevent conflicts in mining communities in the country.
The Coalition of Social Movements on Mining in Upper East Region (CSMM), made the call in a communique issued at the end of a two-day workshop held in Bolgatanga last Friday.
The workshop funded and facilitated by the Third World Network (TWN) Africa, a non-governmental organisation working in the mining sector, was aimed at building the capacity of its members on mining policy and practice and the rights of communities in mining areas in northern Ghana.
The communiqué, signed by the Chairman of Consultative Action Group of CSMM, Mr Bismark Zumah, stressed that Ghana’s mining laws and policies are not effective enough to make the country take commanding heights in the extractive industry.
The movement said Ghana could increase its revenue base and reduce poverty to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), if only the leadership of the country formulate effective laws and see to their effective enforcement.
The communiqué which commended government’s efforts in reviewing the mining laws and policies, stressed that the review should address emerging issues in mining communities, especially conflicts to effectively harness the potentials of the sector for national development and poverty reduction.
“Government should establish Mining Community Development Schemes (MCDS) in all mining communities in northern Ghana as required by the Minerals Development Fund Act, 2016, Act 912. The MCDS which receives funding from royalties, 20 per cent of Minerals Development Fund (MDF) and donations made by mining companies and related business entities will significantly promote equitable distribution of mineral wealth and facilitate socio-economic development of the mining communities,” it said.
They underscored the need for government to also review and ensure that the Minerals and Mining Act caters for human rights audits and reporting in the mining sector while it ensures that the environmental laws are reviewed to provide for the “Polluter Pays All Principle.”
The group also advocated the need for government, particularly parliament to pass laws to domesticate the ECOWAS directive principle on Free, Prior, Informed Concern (FPIC) into the mineral and mining laws of Ghana to empower communities to fully participate in every stage of mining activities.
“Government should review Sections 20 and 21 of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006, Act 703 which hinders communities’ access to information related to activities of mining companies. This will not only be in line with the Right to Information Law of Ghana but will also greatly deepen and promote transparency and accountability in natural resource management,” they said.
The coalition added that where appropriate, the government through its agencies should organise and support small-scale miners to form cooperatives and provide them with the necessary technical and financial support to undertake environmentally sound mining.
With support from St Francis Xavier University in Canada under its Participatory Action Research activities, the CSMM in the Upper East Region was established with the mandate to engage in activism and advocacy for protection of rights of mining communities such as fair and adequate compensation, proper resettlement of communities that are dispossessed of their homes and lands.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BOLGATANGA