The Institute of Economic Affairs in collaboration with the United States Embassy in Ghana held a policy forum yesterday themed “Towards Reforming and Restructuring Ghana’s Small Scale Mining Sector Lessons and Best Practices to Shape Policy Formulation.” The workshop sought to discuss how best to resolve the persistent issue of ‘galamsey’ and its attendant harmful effects on the environment and to also enable licensed small scale ecological miners to earn their rightful living.
The U.S.A Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Robert Jackson in his address made mention of the efforts of the United States in the fight against galasmey. “We are working on water quality issues…it will be useful to bring in an expert to talk about sustainable development. Small scale mining done destructively deters investors” said Mr. Jackson, who also assured that the U.S.A wants to see a prosperous Ghana.
The speaker for the forum, Ms. Cristina Maria Villegas, Director of PACT noted that the grim world of ‘galamsey’ contributed to a staggering 7 million jobs for people all over the country with up to 40% of miners in the sector being women. Ms. Villegas also acknowledged all the other societies engaged in the sector: Solidaridad, Friends of the Nation, the National Resource Defence Council (NRDC), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the IEA. In her presentation. She explained some international best practices in other nations facing a similar issue on illegal mining and how the associated risks have been mitigated over the years. One of the recommendations was to form an agreement between Large Scale Miners (LSM) and Artisanal Scale Miners where a piece of concession was given to artisanal miners who would otherwise not have access to these lands as well as technical assistance.
The issue of small scale mining has been grouped to include those who are licensed to operate and have since become collateral damage in the ban. The debate on whether the ban on small scale mining should be lifted or not raises certain critical questions about the faces behind the operations and enabling the illegal activities. Mr. Kenneth Ashigbey, Convener for the Media Coalition Against Galamsey (MCAG) raised this question and demanded that more be done to oust those in demand for the “blood gold”. “We’ve dealt with the production side, we’ve not dealt with the demand side. Which are the countries that are buying this blood gold? We need to be upfront about it and tackle that”. He also pleaded that government launch the Multi-sectorial Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) in order to help those who mine the “clean and ecological gold” to “flourish”.