Stakeholders charge government to strictly apply mining laws after Consultative Dialogue

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Stakeholders at the just-ended National Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining have charged the government to take steps to strictly apply the country’s mining laws.

This follows a two-day National Consultative Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining held in Accra.

A communiqué issued at the end of the event highlighted key agreements and concessions made by the about 14 stakeholders, including former ministers of Lands and Natural Resources, members of the Council of State, members of the National House of Chiefs, Heads of security agencies, actors in the mining industry and members of the Small-Scale Miners Association.

The stakeholders agreed that the government must work to apply the sanctions and penalties imposed by Mining Act 995 to anyone who breaks the mining law and that this must be done without fear or favour.

“The Dialogue emphatically charged government to take steps to put in place systems that would rigidly apply the law, noting particularly the sanctions/penalties imposed by Act 995, to all those who infringe the law, irrespective of political colour or socio-economic status or class; indeed, the better placed in society and who ought to know better should have the most punitive of the penalties applied to them.”

Read excerpts of the agreements from the meeting below:

The Dialogue again noted, with extreme concern, the preponderance of illegal small scale mining, popularly referred to as Galamsey, which has caused the worst forms of (a) pollution and contamination of our water bodies, in a lot of instances the turbidity rendering them unsuitable for traditional domestic use and even for treatment by the water company, and sometimes made toxic with chemicals like mercury and cyanide; (b) degradation of lands, in many cases leaving numerous uncovered, dangerous water-filled pits scattered over the landscape, making it unsuitable for agricultural or any other uses as well as unsafe for both human and animal occupation, and (c) atmospheric pollution, laden with dust, smoke, and chemical pollutant like mercury fumes.

The Dialogue, worse still, took note of the widespread allegations of the participation of or the support accorded by people of prominence in Government, public and civil service, traditional authorities, business leaders and other opinion leaders to these illegal mining activities, which has given credence and prominence to the activity.

The Dialogue, while noting that when properly done, small scale mining could have the key to significant economic benefits, however, unanimously agreed that galamsey is a major threat to the future of our water resources, particularly and the environment at large, thereby threatening our integrity as a nation.

The Dialogue, therefore, agreed by consensus that dealing with galamsey is a national emergency that required urgent and concerted effort. Therefore, all political parties, all stakeholder groups, all individuals need to join the development and execution of this national, not parochial, agenda to rid ourselves of the long-standing issue of illegal small scale mining and the need to implement measures in eradicating it out of our society.

The Dialogue emphatically charged the government to take steps to put in place systems that would rigidly apply the law, noting particularly the sanctions/penalties imposed by Act 995, to all those who infringe the law, irrespective of political colour or socio-economic status or class; indeed, the better placed in society and who ought to know better should have the most punitive of the penalties applied to them.

The Dialogue, having deliberated on the written memoranda, proposals and other submissions as well as verbal arguments, recommendations, presentations, and other submissions made, mandated the Technical Committee, headed by Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, Member of Parliament, AtwimaNwabiagya North Constituency and former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to come up with a comprehensive report which reflects the detailed conclusions of the Dialogue. Subsequently, this report will be tabled before Cabinet for its examination and hopefully, adoption, which will make it a policy of the government.

The Dialogue resolved that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources will take appropriate steps, legislative and/or executive action, as the case may be, to give effect to the set of measures arising from this Dialogue and approved by the government.

The Dialogue called on all stakeholders, all citizens and all residents as well as visitors to our country to be mindful of and give due regard/respect to the laws of the land, to ensure peaceful coexistence for all as well as build a solid foundation for our future based on our natural resources, rather than waste these and destroy our heritage.

The Dialogue resolved that similar consultations should be held in all mining regions and districts of our country. Further to that, other public relations tools should be employed to generate overwhelming public support for the national policy on small scale mining, as above stated.



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