By: Michael Eli Dokosi
President of the Small Scale Miners Union, Michael Kwadwo Peprah has given government 5 days to disclose pragmatic measures and systems put in place following the ban on artisanal mining.
He observed despite halting their operations for nearly 2 years, indigenous small scale miners are aware of Chinese nationals mining under the protection of state security adding “after 5 days we shall mobilise our members with valid licenses to begin mining once again as we cannot starve.”
“The ban has been unduly long. Government begun by say issuing a 3 month ban to put measures in place to safeguard our water sources but it’s now 2 years and all this while foreign nationals continue to mine in the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions, some under the protection of the military in the forest,” Mr. Peprah alleged.
He also reveled in an interview that government had given a contract to an American firm to dredge the Offin River for gold despite the supposed ban adding the Brim River remains polluted despite small scale miners not flouting the ban, a pointer he says shows others are mining and making money while indigenous folks are prevented from earning their keep.
After an intense campaign in the media showing how many of the country’s rivers and water bodies were getting heavily silted and polluted making them unfit for human consumption, the government issued a ban after an Inter-Ministerial Committee on illegal mining with Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng as chairperson looked into the matter. The committee, as part of its work, recommended an initial 6-month ban on small scale mining activities.
Reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas; restoration of impacted water bodies; and the strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits, it’s hoped will make the ban extension worth it.