The President Akufo-Addo-led government has launched 100 Mercury-free Mining equipment, also known as the “Gold Katcha” to encourage and enhance responsible Small Scale Mining in the country.
The machine, rolled out by Commodity Monitor Limited, a Commodity trading Logistics and research company, efficiently recovers more Gold for artisanal and small miners in Ghana without polluting River bodies.
Addressing the gathering at a colourful event held in Accra on Monday, 6th June 2022, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said although small scale mining accounts for some 40% of Ghana’s gold exports, and provides hundreds of jobs, It is not a secret that the sector has been, unfortunately, a major vehicle of environmental pollution which includes the threat posed to life by use of mercury in the recovery of gold and its subsequent release into the ecosystem.
He said the solution to this, however, cannot be to ban small scale mining, on the contrary, it is to ensure that mining is carried out in a responsible manner, as was done by the ancestors, and in line with international best practices and conventions across all levels of operation.
He further stated that calling for a national dialogue, on small scale mining, he was convinced and still is convinced, that small scale mining can and should be done sustainably, “and that is why the government will continue to support small scale miners in their work”
The President by this reiterated that his government is not against small scale mining, stressing that “What my government is against is any form of mining that pays no heed to the preservation of the environment and which threatens our very survival and the legacy we seek to bequeath to future generations”
He then assured us that government will not relent to flash out all those who engage in the act illegally. “There are still some who have vowed to seek only their selfish, interests at the expense of the collective national interest. Let me assure them, that government will not relent in its efforts to flush them out of the approved system”
He outlined some measures employed by the government in efforts to help protect the environment “we’ve had to take far-reaching measures, such as authorizing the involvement of the military, in operation halt II, as well as decommissioning and demobilizing machines and equipment used for illegal mining, in forest reserves and water bodies, which have been designated red zone for mining”
In accordance with Article 36 clause 9 of the Constitution of the Republic, the President said the government will continue to deploy appropriate measures needed to help protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity.
He noted that to restore the sources of livelihood of affected miners and provide legitimate alternative sources of livelihood for such persons, in October last year, the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Program was launched to mitigate the unavoidable hardship that will be faced by illegal miners.
The President commended highly the Sector Minister and his team from the Minerals Commission for the good work done.
He disclosed that the government will procure some 300 more of the equipment under the National alternative employment and livelihood program for use in the various communities where the program is being implemented.
“Our goal is to eliminate gradually or as soon as possible, the use of mercury in small-scale mining that helped realize the objectives of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
He hoped that Ghanaians and particularly the beneficiaries of this equipment, will put them to good use for their own better and for the benefit of the country.
He also called on Ghana and the diaspora to come together on Friday the 10th of June, 2022 to join the government and the Ministry to plant 20 million trees for a greener future and for the beautification of the country.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor in his submission said the Ministry has since his assumption of office, adopted a two-pronged approach to fighting the menace which he said are law enforcement and reformation of the sector.
Under law enforcement, Hon. Jinapor outlined a number of measures the Ministry has embarked on to curb the menace saying “following the holding of the National and Regional Dialogues on Small Scale Mining, where we built a national consensus on the way forward, we have held engagements with all sixteen (16) Regional Ministers and their respective Regional Security Councils (REGSECs), to lead law enforcement in their various jurisdictions”
He added that Forest Guards of the Forestry Commission have been working with the relevant security agencies to enforce the ban on river bodies as mining destinations and added that the Ministry is in the process of recruiting and training river guards, to protect our river bodies.
“We have also resourced the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission, with logistics and personnel, to carry out their inspectorate and regulatory functions and this the officials of the Minerals Commission, indicate to me, is the biggest single retooling of the Commission since its establishment” He continued.
In the area of regulatory, policy and operational reforms, the sector minister said they have decentralized the work of the Minerals Commission to the Regional and District Offices, to make access to information and applications for licenses easier.
He noted that the policies and strategies being implemented by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo, are to promote viable business for Ghanaians who intend to work in the mining industry, whilst, at the same time, protecting the environment.
He further stated that the Ministry recognizes the complexities of the small-scale mining industry and the intractable nature of the negative practices associated with it. “Let us face it, what we are dealing with is gold, which is money. Thus, those involved, both the gold barons, foreigners and Ghanaians alike, who finance this illicit business from the comfort of their mansions, and the “goro boys” on the ground, would not relent in their efforts” He pointed out.
The Sector Minister reiterated the unflinching commitment of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to persevere until they are successful at constructing, in Ghana, a viable, responsible, sustainable and environmentally-sound small scale mining sector that contributes, meaningfully, to the national economy of our country.
On behalf of the Sector Minister, the Deputy Minister in charge of Mines, Hon. George Mireku Duker expressed appreciation to the President of the Republic for his exemplary leadership and his long-term vision which has led to the procurement of the Gold Kacha Processing equipment.
“We are aware that small scale mining is dear to your heart and your effort of building local champions within the mining industry will always resonate with us and we say Thank you.”
He also assured that the Ministry will ensure that all the equipment will be put to the right use, adding that “this will also help mitigate the influx of foreigners financing small scale mining operations in Ghana which our law frowns on”
Story by:Kwaku Stephen