The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has disclosed that the industry has lost some US$551million and still counting due to the ban placed on their operations by government.
It has therefore called on government to immediately lift the ban in order to save the industry from collapse.
“Once you are running a business and your operations are halted, you may have some loans you have taken from banks, investors and lenders that you have to still pay back; and you will agree with me that restarting the operation would be a challenge. But with the operations in general, we have lost some US$551million, which includes steel maintenance and underground dewatering as the ban is still on,” General Secretary of the GNASSM, Godwin Amarh, told the B&FT.
“We have other fixed costs to pay to regulators; lands that you have acquired and paid for but are not working on; equipment idle-time and man hours which are lost. So, when we calculated all of these for our members within the industry, we had lost that much money,” he stated.
Godwin Amarh was speaking on the sidelines of a media round-table discussion on the place and role of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Ghana’s economy, organised by the Third World Network Africa.
In order to help protect water-bodies and save the forests from depletion, the Akufo-Addo-led government launched a war on illegal small-scale mining (galamsey), which resulted in a six-month moratorium placed on all forms of small-scale mining activities in the country.
The ban which, was expected to be lifted by the end of October last year, was extended for three more months – prompting protest by the Small-Scale Miners Association.
According to the Land and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, the extension is to allow government monitor developments in the sector before implementation of the five-year Multilateral Mining Integration Project (MMIP) it is considering.
But the small-scale miners have pointed out that the modus operandi adopted by the government is wrong. They believe the government must delink galamsey from small-scale miners who operate legally – those who operate with licence – in this endeavour.
Godwin Amarh further stated that the ban has affected and shaken the socio-economic foundations of Ghana, contributing hugely to the country’s unemployment situation.
He said some one million youth have directly been affected by the ban, while some three million dependents have had to suffer as well.
“For every three ounces of gold mined in Ghana, one comes from the small-scale mining sector; not a single one of the large multi-national mining companies’ production can match what the small-scale sector does. When it comes to sales or revenue in forex, I can say that from January to October 2016 the small-scale sector alone made some US$1.5million; and when we were in operation, every week we brought in some US$40million. This indeed was good for stabilising the cedi on the currency market because of demand and supply,” Mr. Armah said.
Meanwhile during his recent encounter with the media, President Akufu-Addo assured that government will soon lift the ban placed on small-scale mining.
According to Nana Addo, he is only waiting on the Presidential Task Force Committee to advise on the next line of action.