Several weeks after the lifting of the ban on small scale mining, productive activities of the small scale mining sector are yet to fully take off.
This is according to the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Mining (GNASSM).
In an interview with Goldstreet Business, the Director of Operation for GNASSM, Emmanuel Yirenkye-Antwi said, the small scale mines that have been stopped from operating for close to two years, would need at least three months for rehabilitation and other requisite re- construction works.
“…At the moment 95 percent of our members [those who went through the vetting procedure] haven’t started production yet,” Yirenkye-Antwi said. “We have less than 20 companies that have been cleared with conditional qualifications.”
Before the ban, the small scale mining sector had contributed more than one million ounces annually, this being one-third of the total gold output of the country.
At the moment, the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have indicated that they haven’t been given any directive to accept new applications for licenses or for renewal of existing licenses, Yirenkye – Antwi said.
At the time the ban was introduced, the Minerals Commission had received and granted licenses to 1350 small scale mining companies, which were active. However, after the lifting of the ban, only 900 have been able to go through the requisite vetting and given licenses to resume operations.
Lifting of the ban is expected to allow mining companies with valid company registration certificates, valid permits and licenses from the regulatory authorities, Minerals Commission, EPA and the Water Resources Commission, and who have tax identification numbers from companies, have had their mining equipment licensed and electronically tagged by the DVLA, and whose concessions have been vetted and given QR codes to go back to work.
At the lifting of the ban the Minister for Environment, Prof. Frimpong Boateng said mining equipment, especially excavators and bulldozers not licensed by DVLA will not be allowed for small scale mining. the Minister added.
The government earlier in June 2017 imposed a six-month ban on small-scale mining as part of efforts to end illegal mining and its related activities, which adversely affected the environment, particularly water bodies and forest reserves.
The ban was extended to end in January 2018, but remained in force until a few weeks ago despite numerous protests by those in the industry.
By Joshua W. Amlanu