The Third world Network –Africa(TWN) has acknowledged the significant contribution of the Artisanal Small scale Mining(ASM) sub sector to Ghana’s economy and wants government to give the sector the needed attention.
The Organization argues that the bulk of the earnings of the artisanal small scale mining stays in the country, yet government policies appear to be favourable towards foreign investors rather than locals.
According to the organization, the small scale mining sub sector provides livelihood for millions; and has the potential to contribute to poverty reduction and stimulate economic growth. In 2016 the Small scale mining sector contributed to 31% (1.13 million oz) of total gold production.
It pointed out that, the critical challenge for those working in the ASM is to mitigate its consequences and enhance its positive benefits to transform and maximize its contribution to poverty reduction and creation of resilient communities.
These issues were raised at a roundtable discussion organised in Accra by the Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Africa) with support from STAR-Ghana. The roundtable was meant to discuss the place and role of Artisanal and Small Scale Mininig in Ghana’s economy and society, with a particular focus on ASM in the gold and salt sectors.
Setting the context for the discussion, the Coordinator of the TWN-Africa, Dr Yao Graham, pointed out that, while regional and local policies acknowledged the importance of artisanal and small-scale mining to the country’s socio-economic development, government action was contrary to such policies.
According to Dr Graham, revenues derived from ASM could increase local purchasing power and have the potential to catalyse Small Scale Enterprises development and foster local economic multiopliers. He said ASM also contributes to foreign exchange earnings and help reduce rural urban migration of the youth.
He regretted that the poverty cycle being experienced over the years is aggravated by legal and regulatory failures, including failure of successive government to recognize and formalize the sub sector, adding that where, there have been efforts to regulate it, the legal frameworks are not adequate and preference is still given large scale mining .
He said the “Operation Vanguard” was about the third militarised operation within the artisanal and small-scale mining sector that showed the government’s misunderstanding of the challenges in the sector.
Touching on the salt sector, Dr Graham indicated that the policies of the government showed its interest in ceding communal resource to a foreign investor, to the detriment of the livelihoods of communities that had engaged in the winning of sand for centuries.
He expressed the hope that the conversation had started to re-orient the government’s interest towards policies that supported artisanal and small-scale mining in the country.
The President of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners, Evangelist Collins Osei Kusi,who was at the event called on the government to lift the ban on small-scale mining, since the continued moratorium is negatively affecting the businesses of the miners.
Evangelist Kusi emphasised that the continued stay of the association’s members at home amounted to an infringement on their right to work.
He said the right thing to do was to punish those infringing the laws, and not to punish all because of infractions by a few.
Evangelist Kusi wondered if all large-scale mining companies were carrying out their operations in the right manner, adding,“ What happens to them when they pollute the environment and flout the laws?
The General Secretary of the association, Mr Godwin Armarh, in his intervention, said the continued ban had also affected allied sectors.
According to him, the ban has affected many people including some workers at Suame in the Ahanti region “Go to Suame now, where we fabricated and mended the tools we use. The ban on our operations has also affected them and they are having no work to do,”
By Mohammed Suleman