The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has told small-scale miners that until it is evident that polluted water bodies are going back to their natural ecology, the temporary ban on all forms of small-scale mining will not be lifted.
He called for strong collaboration with members of the association to help win the fight against illegal mining.
He made the pronouncement today at a meeting with the Association of Small Scale Miners.
The Miners were seeking clarity on government’s intentions following an impending expiration of a 6-month ban placed on small-scale mining in the country.
John Peter Amewu who had earlier given an indication that the ban would be extended urged the members of the Association to collaborate with the ministry to sanitize the mining industry.
He intimated that “Operation Vanguard are doing their best, but I have gone round and the little involvement I have seen with your team far out weight what is happening, we must be frank, because you know the places, you were not involved in this, you were burning and clearing, because you know the area, now you have absented yourself all away from this thing.”
“My visit to the site was to ascertain the progress we have made and I say, until responsible mining goes on, until we can walk to river Pra to fetch water and drink, if you cannot do all these, you lift the ban. We want to solve the problem so that we can go to Ankobrah and drink from it, let ask ourselves, if anybody is able to drink the water, we will not go back and mine.”
He reiterated the NPP Government’s commitment towards the fight but bemoaned the lack of cooperation between government and the small-scale mining companies.
“I had the opportunity to visit a mining community, I saw an old lady with a yellow gallon going to fetch water, I asked her, what the water was for, and she responded, it was to mix with chemicals to spray her cocoa farm, but just at the outskirt of her farm there was a stream, I asked why not fetch from there and she replied that anytime she uses that water with the chemical to spray her farm it doesn’t work, because the water is heavily polluted, this doesn’t give an encouragement and hope that we achieving anything collectively,” Amewu said.
“I am a part of a government, and this government has a very well crafted manifesto, it based on this manifesto, that Nana Addo stated he will sanitize the small-scale mining sector and it, based on some of this, claimed his government was voted into power. It is this majority that will question the government. I am very much disappointed that the collective understanding, that we have to address this problem has not been fully materialized, I wish the various bottled water by you were fetched from rivers like Bia, Tano, Ankobrah for us to drink. There is a possibility of an extension, to put a complete ban on river bodies mining. As I speak there is a still a moratorium on issues of new of new license.”
Mr. Amewu who tasked the Small Scale to collaborate with government to win the fight against illegal mining said the government will provide funding to support the course.
He told the media of the ministry support to include members of the association in policing the activities of illegal miners. He asked them to come up with a budget for the ministry’s approval.
Mr. Amewu stated, “we are asking them to come in and help us with what we have started in clearing the rivers, and of course, they are willing. But their major concern has to do with resources. It is true we did not make any resources available to them in the initial stage and they complained of resources. So, we have asked them to bring a budget, we will look into that budget and make sure we advance some money for them to help. They identify and know the places that these guys are working in the river bodies so they assist us together with the Operation Vanguard so we should be able to clear that.”
“The second point is that we as a government will not say Ghanaians will not mine, Ghanaians will definitely mine. But we must set up clear strategies as we agree that the MMIP will come to address. So, we’ve agreed on beginning an auditing process which will involve members of the Minerals Commission and the Small Scale Association to start some form of auditing of the licenses. Some of the licenses have expired. Under the Small Scale, we’ll set up an intelligence unit which is going to control the tracking of the devices and applications. And we’re going to have what we call Mining Guards. We just want their help, we want their collaborations. They have started very well with us and we don’t want them to backslide. They also expressed some concerns and these concerns, of course, are very genuine.”