In spite of the ongoing efforts to clamp down on illegal mining activities in the country, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said cases of illegal mining activities continue to be reported daily in some parts of the country.
The situation, although worrying, will take a while for government to resolve despite the fact some significant progress has been made in the campaign against illegal mining activities, the minister said.
“We haven’t gotten to where we should be yet; there are still challenges. There is a good deal of work that we still have to do to come to a satisfactory situation,” he said.
Against this background, Mr. Abu Jinapor indicated the ministry is still open to suggestions and criticism, among others, in order to help government realise its objectives.
The sector minister, who was addressing journalists during the regular press briefings organised by the Ministry of Information, observed that the mining sector over the period has seen a lot of actions through the ministry with support from the Minerals Commission.
Among some of the interventions recorded within the mining sector is the revision of withholding tax on unprocessed gold.
At the recent 2022 budget presentation in Parliament, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced a reduction of the 3 percent withholding tax on sale of unprocessed gold by small-scale miners to 1.5 percent, with effect from 1st January 2022.
Mr. Abu Jinapor said the 3 percent export tax was a disincentive and encouraged gold-smuggling; hence, an extensive consultation was undertaken by government to arrive at this latest decision.
The tax is expected to be collected at the point of production (mine site), contrary to the existing arrangement whereby the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) is tasked to do the collection.
This, the minister said, is “significant and is going to contribute tremendously to growth of the small-scale mining industry”.
Also, he said, there are other interventions in the areas of community mining, mercury-free mining among others to ensure growth of the small-scale mining industry.
The Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, Mr. Martin Kwaku Ayisi, debunked assertions that the Commission grants licences: “What we do is to regulate and manage the sector”.
He insisted that the person legally authorised to grant mineral rights is the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources.
Against the plethora of challenges which hitherto existed in the sector – including widespread illegal mining, complaints of delays in the licencing regime, lack of suitable areas for small-scale mining, among others, he said some significant gains have been made.
These include the introduction of paperless application, upgrading infrastructure to meet the digitisation process, and making it possible for the Minerals Commission to work offline at any eventuality. This has also enabled companies to file their reports to the Minerals Commission online.
Currently, the Commission has digitised over 1,400 licences – with some 726 being valid and making it possible for the applicants to continue with the process through the use of mobile money payment, he revealed.