The Ghana National Association of Small-scale Miners (GNASSM) has committed to go the extra mile to support the government’s effort to weed out illegal miners and sanitize the small-scale mining sector.
According to the association, it had resuscitated its monitoring taskforce on galamsey and would, with the logistical support from the Minerals Commission, begin surveillance in the various mining communities to help tack the activities of the illegal miners.
The GNASSM made that commitment when the newly elected national executives of the association held its first meeting with the Minerals Commission board at Kumasi in the Ashanti Region last Thursday (September 24).
The meeting, which was at the instance of the Minerals Commission, was meant to welcome the new GNASSM leadership and fashion out a strategy on how the two parties could collaborate to sanitise the small-scale mining sector.
The Chairman of the Minerals Commission Board, Mr S.K Boafo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commission, Mr Kwaku Antwi-Bosiako; and other top officials of the Commission were part of the meeting.
Among the other concerns raised by the GNASSM executives, who were led by the National Chairman of the association, Mr Philip Akufo, were protocol in the allocation of mining concessions, challenges with the importation of excavators, payment of royalties and revamping of the GNASSM taskforce to fight illegal mining.
At the meeting, the General Secretary of GNASSM, Mr Godwin Armah, raised concerns about he described as “gradual politicisation” of community mining scheme that was introduced by the government to help fight illegal mining, popularly called galamsey.
He said some Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and constituency chairmen of the ruling party had broken down the structures laid out for the successful implementation of the scheme.
“What is happening in some of the mining areas is not good at all because the MMDCEs and party executives have taken over and do not want to allow the structures for the CMS to work.
“We want something to be done about this situation because if it continues to operate purely politically, galamsey can never be fought,” he stressed.
Mr Armah said the protocol system in the allocation of concessions needed to be tackled head on to help in the fight against galamsey.
“The CMS was supposed to be operated under the mining laws, but what we are seeing as the reality on the ground is that some party officials in the ruling government have hijacked it and we risk losing the entire fight on illegal mining. If this thing is not stopped now and there is a change in government, that party’s officials will also take over and it will become like the KVIP politics,” he said.
He added that although the party executives lacked knowledge about mining, they had also taken over mining concessions and do not have the ability to mine.
The GNASSM General Secretary said the association was ready to collaborate with the Minerals Commission to fight the galamsey menace if the right things were done.
For instance, he said the association had been able to take off 10,000 chanfan machines in the from water bodies with its own resources through its monitoring taskforce.
In response to the concerns raised by the GNASSM executives, Mr Antwi-Bosiako gave an assurance that the Minerals Commission would go all out to ensure that the structures laid down at the local level for the implementation of the CMS worked well.
He said GNASSM had been made a key part of the CMS oversight committee at the mining communities because their important role in fighting galamsey.
“We are going to do a remediation programme to ensure that all the wrongs have been righted and the small-scale miners are part and parcel of the CMS; they are key stakeholders in the structure for implementation the programme and if they are not involved, we cannot succeed.
“We want to assure everyone that we are going to get in tuere; clean up; and ensure that things work properly,” he stressed.
Mr Antwi-Bosiako said the Minerals Commission would support the GNASSM to grow into a stronger force in the small-scale mining space and help to sanitise the sector.
The small-scale mining sector contributes 40 per cent of Ghana’s gold production.
Betwen January and August, 2020, the small-scale miners and gold exporters paid taxes amounting to GH94 million.
By: Kwaku Stephen