Parliament of Ghana has passed the Minerals and Mining Act Amendment Act to empower the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources (mines) to confiscate equipment used in illegal mining as well as the products derived from the illegal activity.
By the amendment also criminalizes the involvement of a foreigner in small-scale mining as well as makes it an offence for a Ghanaian to employ or engage a foreigner to undertake, or participate in illegal small-scale mining.
Section 83 of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006, Act 703 states clearly that A license for small-scale mining operation shall not be granted to a person unless that person (a) is a citizen of Ghana, (b) has attained the age of eighteen years, and (c) is registered by the office of the Commission in an area designated under the law for mining.
It also said the license granted to a Ghanaian is transferable to only Ghanaian citizens.
The law was however was not explicit about the employment or engagement of foreigners in the small-scale sector; neither did it forbid explicitly, partnerships between the Ghanaian licensees and foreigners.
“A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provisions of this Act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than thirty thousand (30,000) penalty units and not more than three hundred thousand (300,000) Penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not more than twenty (20) years or both,” the amendment stated.
Also,”a Ghanaian who employs or engages a foreigner to illegally undertake or participate in small-scale mining commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than seventeen thousand (17,000) penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty (20) years, or both.”
The amendment also includes circuit courts among the courts empowered to deal with illegal mining, stating clearly; “a court before which a person is convicted under this Act shall order the forfeiture to the state of the mineral in respect of which the offence was committed.”
To make this possible, the amendment also provides that the equipment used in or in association with the commission of the offence of illegal mining and any product derived from it shall be seized and kept in police custody, regardless the ownership of the equipment and proceeds.
The amendment act reinforces the offence of operating small-scale mining without license from the Minister responsible for the mining sector.
Concerning the payment of royalties by mining firms, the amendment in 2010 which fixed the royalties at 5.0 percent, instead of a sliding-scale between 3.0 percent and 6.0 percent was repealed.
Activities of illegal miners has reached epic proportions, as some foreigners of various nationalities have also joined their Ghanaian partners in search for mostly the yellow metals and in some cases diamonds, wrecking havoc on water bodies, farm lands and the general environment.
The amendment also repeals the earlier amendment in 2010 which fixed the royalties at 5.0 percent.
Minister for Lands and Natural Resources (Mines), Nii Osah Mills explained to Xinhua that the intention is to pass a legislation that determines the modalities under which the royalties would be paid. Enditem