Government has extended the ban placed on all forms of small-scale mining activities in the country by another three months. Originally, the six-month ban on all small-scale mining should have ended by the end of October 2017.
The ban was placed to curb the destructive activities of illegal miners otherwise known as galamseyers. The latest extension has indeed come as a surprise to many of the licenced small-scale miners, especially when they were all looking forward to the lifting of the ban as the expiration date was due.
But unfortunately that will not happen with this extension announcement. And this appears to have incurred the wrath of some of the small-scale miners, many of whom are growing impatient with government’s approach towards seeing an end to galamsey.
Explaining this new ban extension on Friday, November 10, 2017 Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), John Peter Amewu, indicated that it was aimed at totally clamping down on activities of galamseyers.
Well, though many of us are in support of government’s quest to root out galamsey entirely in the country, we must also ensure that licenced small-scale mining companies do not continue to suffer.
The fact is that ban is seriously affecting licenced small-scale miners, who have to pay salaries and pay for the hired services of mining equipment.
In fact, if care is not taken some of them would be compelled to fold up even before the ban is lifted.
Yes, Mr Minister, we agree with you that “All that we want to see is that the land is restored and the rivers are clean, so we look forward to that day when we can all drink from the Birim and other rivers again.”
However, Today, believes that it is important we address the plight of these licenced small-scale miners who are seriously being affected by the ban.
In our estimation, government should reconsider the ban, especially on licenced small-scale miners. We should remember that these are mining companies which have been granted permits and licences to operate legally. Of course, that does not also mean that they should abuse the permits granted them. Absolutely not!
So what we at Today are proposing is that government should relax the ban on licenced small-scale miners, but at the same time strictly monitor their operations. This, we believe, will ensure sanity in the small-scale mining industry.
And in any case, it should not be difficult to apply severe sanctions on any small-scale mining company, which breaks the rules of engagement—even if it means revoking their licences. In that way, we believe these small-scale miners will act responsibly and would do nothing untoward to see the state descend on them.