Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said government remains unrelenting in its efforts to sanitise and regulate the small-scale mining sector, which provides an estimated 40 percent of Ghana’s total gold output.
“The government is very mindful of the consequential and important nature of the small-scale mining sector of our country,” he said while also acknowledging the challenges bedevilling it.
The small-scale mining sector, he added, is fraught with some negative practices which impact the environment – water bodies, as well as forest cover, among others.
It is in this regard that the government continues to pursue an agenda to clamp down on illegal mining in the country, according to the minister. Additionally, he mentioned that government has introduced several reformative measures, including the start of the community mining scheme, the introduction of mercury-free mining equipment, and the alternative livelihoods programme.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in partnership with the Ghana National Association of Small-scale Miners, has introduced an award scheme to promote and encourage responsible small-scale mining last year.
Mr. Jinapor, who was speaking at the launch of this year’s small-scale mining awards programme, said: “The whole idea is that while we are clamping down on illegal small-scale mining, we make it clear that we are also interested in promoting and encouraging responsible, environmentally sound and legal small-scale mining”.
The small-scale mining sector, he stressed, is important considering that it also provides almost a million jobs across the country.
“The government is not against small-scale mining, but illegal small-scale mining. We want to promote and encourage small-scale mining, and we want them to be responsible and contribute to the national economy and the welfare of the population, as it pertains to other nations across the world,” he said.
This year’s small-scale mining awards would have an expanded number of awardees, with the categories including Best Female Small-Scale Miner, Best Male Small-Scale Miner, and the Best Small-Scale Miner in Environmental Stewardship.
The others include Best Small-Scale Miner in Corporate Social Responsibility, Best Gold Exporter, Best Metropolitan/Municipal or District Chief Executive, and the Best Traditional Leader.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Small-Scale Miners Association, Godwin Armah, also speaking at the programme, recognised the efforts of government in instituting the awards scheme.
He noted that the development demonstrates how important the government considers the small-scale mining sector and its contribution to national development. This, he said, will help small-scale miners work sustainably.
Furthermore, he said other initiatives introduced by the government are helping to deepen the sustainability of the sector, citing, for example, the ‘M-CAS’ system being implemented by the Mineral’s Commission. This is helping a lot of small-scale miners who are going through the programme to acquire licenses to operate.
The small-scale miners, however, appealed for the support of government and the ministry to fight illegal mining on the Birim River.
The National Small-Scale Mining Awards is a brainchild of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, which seeks to celebrate those who adhere to the health, safety and environmental standards guiding their mining operations.