The Omanhene of Asokore Asante in the Ashanti Region, Nana Dr. S.K.B. Asante, has charged government to begin consulting and involving chiefs in the issuance of licences to Artisanal and Small-Scale miners in particular.
According to the astute legal luminary, chiefs are the best way to provide legitimate advice and knowledge on the consequences of activities in their areas – and also curb the overwhelming amount of land cases pending before the courts with regard to mining.
Speaking during a UNDP Policy Dialogue on policy options for addressing gaps and challenges in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Legal Regime, Nana Dr. S.K.B. Asante said chiefs ought to be given a say in the activities of mining because they are accountable to the people and often bear the consequences of illegal mining activities.
“There are larger interests in the whole mining process in Ghana. It is important that government involves chiefs in the process of mineral licencing in the country. I would ask that we be involved in the decision – especially the paramount chiefs, to advise and bring their knowledge to bear on the process. Our consent must be sought. After all, the lands belong to Nananom or families who are from the royal families.
“We must be involved before the licence is granted, and we must also be involved in managing and enforcing the laws. We must understand the difference between large-scale and small-scale mining. And my view on large-scale mining is that we the chiefs must be consulted. This is because you are dealing with huge mineral resources which affect the whole nation,” he stated.
We are certain that such a collaboration will stop some of the suspicions that people have about our traditional rulers and the role that they have played in the sale of lands to illegal miners.
Recently, scores of youth in mining communities in Western, Eastern, Central, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions accused their chiefs and traditional leaders – together with politicians and police officers – of sabotaging government’s efforts to flush out the irresponsible and destructive activities of illegal small-scale miners in the country.
According to them, their chiefs and traditional leaders who sell lands to illegal miners to mine gold and other minerals are making the government look bad in the eyes of the public, especially those in the mining communities who had so much hope in government to fight illegal mining activities, popularly termed galamsey.
We believe such a close collaboration between the regulatory agencies and traditional rulers would go a long way to help curtail and end this menace that has the potential to destroy the country.