Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) has called on the government and other stakeholders, including the media, not to lump its members with illegal gold miners.
According to the association, its members had been licensed to engage in legitimate mining and been taught to preserve the environment after excavation works.
The association made the appeal at a press conference in Kumasi last Tuesday. It said it was important that a distinction was made in order not to ban them with the miscreants.
The National General Secretary of the association, Mr Godwin Amarh, explained that unlike the GNASSM, illegal miners or ‘galamsey’ operators mined on river banks and other water bodies in forest reserves and areas that were not approved by the Minerals Commission of Ghana.
“The association is not a law enforcement agency and is, therefore, not able to prevent the illegalities in the sector. However, GNASSM is ready to assist the national security apparatus with a taskforce to identify places where illegal mining activities were taking place in various mining districts and have the culprits arrested.
“It is clear that no miner has legal concession to mine on a river bed and so we suggest strongly that the navy conduct an operation on all major rivers of the country to track and stamp out illegal miners,” Mr Amarh said.
The group therefore urged the Minerals Commission to deal with large-scale companies with prospecting licences who were selling land to foreigners.
Members of the association, mainly women drawn from various concessions of the GNASSM and dressed in mourning clothes begged the government to spare small-scale miners from the decision.
The association further urged legal miners who were operating in water bodies to desist from such action and seek knowledge on mining best practices.
GNASSM pledged to sponsor and support educational programmes that were being rolled out by the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) for members of the association.
Mr Amarh urged Ghanaians not to get emotional about the negative news with regard to small-scale mining, but should also focus on the contributions of legal mining to the economy.
He said the contributions that GNASSM was making to the economy included foreign exchange earnings and providing gold for the local jewellery.
According to the association, it had generated about one million jobs in the country, and, as such, urged stakeholders to help it streamline the activities of its members to enable them to contribute more to the economy.
‘GNASSM believes in sustainable mining and is ready to work with the government in achieving that. Therefore, a ban on small-scale mining would be like grouping both legal and illegal operators together,” he said.
source: Ghana | Graphic.com