Mining Is Too Lucrative To Stop – Small Scale Miners Say It Pays Like Cocaine

Small Scale Miners in Ghana have expressed disappointment in government’s efforts to win miners out of business and place them under other alternative livelihood programs as source of livelihood.

According to them, there is no other job too attractive to woo any of the miners out from the industry and that is the reason why irrespective of the ban on small scale mining, some recalcitrant galamseyers continue to engage in illegal mining activities.

In an interview with Amina Tahiru, Coordinator for Women in Small Scale Mining, at the sidelines of a biennial conference organized by the University of Ghana Mining Research Group in collaboration with Center for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, she averred that government needs a practical approach to tackle the issue rather than frustrating small scale miners who were working with permits and all certifications.

She noted that gold to them is like ‘cocaine’ so lucrative to stop dealing in hence chasing the miners out of business will not bring solution but will rather compound the situation and give the illegal miners the chance to carry on with their activities.

“Look government’s approach in solving this issue is wrong. Nobody can be taken away from mining to get engaged in another business,” she said and called for effective monitoring on the activities of mining so as to save the situation.

Amina Tahiru also said placing a ban on small scale mining as a solution to illegal mining is not realistic and “it won’t work.”

She indicated that the ban placed on small scale mining will not in any way solve the problem but that it rather goes against the certified operators who are working with relevant permits and certifications.

According to her, illegal mining has not stopped, revealing that whilst the Small Scale Miners with certifications continue to sit at home in respect for the ban, the illegal mining activities continue to go on without the authorities saving the situation.

She stated unequivocally that politicians and chiefs are mostly behind the activities of these illegal miners hence the continue depleting effects on the nation and the certified miners.

She however indicated that government is losing huge revenue in the past nine months of the ban on small scale mining because the small scale miners who are currently sitting at home in respect of the ban, have not been paying any revenue to government.

“We have been paying taxes to government and if you calculate ten percent of our returns that goes to government which stopped coming because of the ban, you will see that government is losing huge revenue because of the ban. Meanwhile illegal miners continue to work without paying anything to government,” she said.

On his part Eric Addai, Chairman of the Konongo Small Scale Miners Association said government must engage small scale miners to see the possible ways of assisting them to collectively fight illegal miners. “We know those engaging in illegal mining. We are the people who can fight them. But when you set up a committee and brought people who don’t even know where these activities are going on, how do you expect to see result?” he asked.

He also seconded the idea that finding an alternative livelihood for miners will be a venture in futility since “it will be difficult to move somebody away from the mines into another business for his or her source of livelihood.”

They took a swipe at EPA, Minerals Commission and other regulatory agencies for doing nothing but rather conniving with some of these people, especially Chinese to be engaging in illegal mining.

They pointed out that Small Scale miners have been sitting at home for the past six months but no solution has been found yet, government has decided to extend the ban which they said is not only affecting them but also government bin revenue generation.

Also, President for Small-scale Miners Association, Collins Osei Kusi said certified miners are losing their assets in an alarming rate as a result of the blanket ban imposed on small-scale mining.

According to him “Most of the miners have gone for loans from banks and have used their asset as collaterals. With the ban in place, they are not able to operate, and most of them have lost their asset as a result, and this is affecting all of us. Moreover, some have acquired license to operate at a high cost and these licenses have an expiry date.”

Collins Osei Kusi also pointed out that “If they expire we have to renew them, and without working for nine months, it will be difficult for some of our members to renew their licenses, which are very expensive when the ban is lifted, which we don’t even know when it will be lifted.”

He also expressed disappointment in government and maintained that it was unfair for the government to ban both legal and illegal miners because legal miners had the legitimate license to operate, and their operations were in line with the rules of mining in the country.
“The ban is killing the small-scale miners and we are pleading with the government to reconsider the ban on our operations,” he added.

It has however been observed that the shift from the use of rudimentary tools to capital intensive earth moving machines as well as an increase in the influx of migrants into the sector has led to increase in the scale of environmental degradation, making it difficult for the country to tackle.

It was the looming danger of the activities of artisanal mining that the public rose up against illegal mining activities leading to the ban on the activities.

In view of this, government has commissioned a policy document, the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) to serve as a comprehensive strategy and guide to interventions of tackling the scourge of illegal mining.



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