Ghana’s effort to save its natural environment from incessant degradation may become a fruitless endeavor if the latest sand weaning craze is not stopped as a matter of urgency.
Public Agenda can report that some small scale Miners in the Ashanti region who have been pushed out of business following government moratorium on mining have now found solace in weaning sand for sale; a situation that equally cause serious degradation to the environment and the country’s biodiversity.
The Miners have in a brazen fashion, invaded some part of the Ashanti Region, specifically Offinso , Boamang, Anua- Nkwanta, Amoako and Ahenkro, mining sand and gravels and leaving tracks of land degraded.
The Paper’s enquiry pointed to the fact that the sand weaning business booms in the aforementioned areas due to the suspension of small scale mining by the government.
Thus, owners of excavators and Pay Loaders who could not bare the brunt of being out of business resorted to sand weaning to make a living.
Chiefs and Land owners give out their lands to these sand contractors at prices ranging from Ghc 4000- 7000 per acre depending on the grade of the Sand on the land and the proximity of the site to the central business areas.
Usually the deal is that, the Land owner takes back the land after the sand contractors have mined the quantity they want.
Public Agenda also understands that the majority of the Sand contractors do not have the permit to mine but are doing so because they have the equipment and money to do it .
In Ghana, the Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703), also regulates the activities of those who engage in sand and stone mining, while the Minerals Commission issues licenses for such activities.
The Act also classifies sand and stone as major minerals, and therefore subjects them to the same process of obtaining license or permit like those who mine gold, diamond, bauxite among others
Ghanaians have previously expressed displeasure about the long period of waiting, coupled with the cumbersome administrative procedures and the stress of having to travel all the way to Accra for sand mining permit. That, according to them is discouraging and therefore compels them to engage in the illegal activities.
A sand miner who, Mr Alhassan Sienu spoke to Public Agenda said he and his colleagues who have been mining in the area with permits some time are now are currently jobless following the take over of their business by the small scale miners.
Mr Sienu told Public Agenda “these are people who have got the money to buy as many acres of land as they require .They have their own earth moving machines and the only thing they buy is fuel. But Me,I have to hire the machine and fill it with Fuel so you can see that our profit margins will not be the same.
He added that “ now the land owners do not lease to those of us who just want one or two acres, they only lease to the small scale miners who can afford about 10 to15 acres. So the small scale miners are pushing us out of business. We want to plead with the government to step in and stop them.
Mr Nicolas Gyan, 42- year old man who used to work at Prestea as a small scale miner said he lost his job as a result of the moratorium and thought that it was wise to engage in the sand mining business to cater for himself an the family. He admitted that he did not have a permit to mine but intends to apply for one soon.
By Mohammed Suleman