According to President Akufo-Addo, upon his assumption of office on 7th January, he had the responsibility to say no to galamsey “for our own common survival, and the survival of those who are to come. I was of the view that, if we allowed it to continue, we would be jeopardising both our present and our future. Our responsibility, to this end, was clear.”
It was for this reason that, in March this year, the President, on the advice of Cabinet, set-up the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, which is also actively supported by the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, the Minister for National Security, and the National Security Advisor.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Friday, when he commissioned the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, at a brief ceremony in Cantonments, Accra.
The President noted that at the commencement of its work, the Committee recommended a 6-month ban on small scale mining activities, a request to which he assented. The ban was further extended for another 3 months, after the expiration of the initial ban.
He indicated that during the period of the ban, Government gave directives to the Committee to carry out certain activities to bring sanity into the artisanal gold mining sector.
These directives included, launching of Operation Vanguard on 31st July, 2017; training of some 1,300 small-scale miners, by September 2018, in sustainable mining at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa; a nationwide tour by the Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs to solicit the support of Chiefs, Queen Mothers and other traditional and opinion leaders in the fight against illegal mining; and regular interaction between the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the Small Scale Miners Association to craft a Code of Practice for small scale mining operations.
Additionally, the President stated that District Committees against illegal mining will be formed, before the first week of January, with the Committees expected to address all issues concerning small scale mining in the mining communities in their districts. The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives have already been informed about the composition of the District Committees, which will be inaugurated before the end of the first week of January.
“To champion the cause, the media has also formed the Media Coalition Against Illegal Mining, which is waging the battle against galamsey across all fronts of the media landscape. The Coalition is doing invaluable, patriotic work,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo also told the gathering the Ghana, this year, ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, as the 40th Party, whose objective is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions, and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
He also commended the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for allowing the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) to constitute the Advisory Committee of the Minamata Convention on Mercury National Action Plan (NAP).
New Era for small scale mining
The President told the gathering that Government is entering a new era in its efforts to formalize the small scale mining industry, so as to achieve sustainable mining with sound environmental practices.
“In the weeks and months ahead, I expect to see optimal co-ordination amongst participating Ministries and the District Mining Committees, as well as close interaction with Operation Vanguard, small scale miners and the general public. I expect the Committee to receive regular reports from mining centers, so that illegal activities can be dealt with immediately,” he said.
With the inauguration of the District Committees, President Akufo-Addo noted that about 1,400 small scale miners in all the mining districts of Ghana, allegedly the total population of small scale miners in the country, will be vetted.
“This will enable us to know, in full, their details and whereabouts, and to monitor their activities,” he said.
The President stressed that with the office for the Inter-Ministerial Committee in place, “there is going to be constant, close and effective monitoring and reporting of anti-galamsey activities, so that the right thing is done all the time. This new phase will demonstrate our resilience and commitment to ensuring that our water bodies, land and forests, with their biodiversity, are not destroyed.”
To the Small Scale Miners Association, from the national to the community level, President Akufo-Addo appealed to them to “help in self-regulation of activities of their members, and also ensure that no one engages in illegal activities, especially mining in our water bodies.”