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Dr Yao Graham
Dr Yao Graham

Small scale mining needs government’s maximum attention-TWN

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.

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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 .

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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.

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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?

 Collapsing industries

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

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