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How to Achieve Sustainable Small Scale Mining in Ghana – An Open Letter to stakeholders

Dear All,

It is undeniable fact that small scale mining contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of Ghana. The industry used to employ over 20% of Ghanaian labour force. However, we cannot ignore the cataclysmic effect of the industry on the environment. This we all know called for urgent action from the Government of Ghana to halt all small scale mining operations (both legal and illegal) in the country. However, with current high level of graduate unemployment in Ghana, there is a need to regulate the small scale mining industry with sustainable policies, to ensure safe mining, sustainable environment and increase the GDP of Ghana.

On 12th July, 2018, the IEA Ghana hosted a policy forum on small-scale mining, on the theme: “Towards Reforming And Restructuring Ghana’s Small-Scale Mining Sector: Lessons And Best Practices To Shape Policy Formulation”. The contributions from resource persons during the forum were great. However, we need practical policies to solve the small scale mining industry menace. The solutions being proposed in this article are steps to help curb the menace and challenges the sector faces.

The small scale mining sector faces unusual bureaucracies involved in license acquisition which leads to frustrations and force people into illegal mining in a bid to skip the frustrating system and steps. In regular small scale mining operation, miners send site map to Minerals Commission at the District Level; Commissioners verify site map; Environmental Protection Agency charges before license acquisition; map is sent to Accra for Ministerial Signatures; Digging and other permits required.
But the interesting aspect is that none of the National Officers in charge of issuing small scale mining concession even move to the local level to check the site. So why can’t the District Officers who are directly on the field work to curtail bureaucracies?

We humbly suggest that after miners get site plans for proposed concession areas which should be verified by the District officers of the Minerals Commission. Upon confirmation of mine site, the officer should sign a preliminary license for the commencement of mining on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources – the document due maximum 3 weeks after submission.

The numerous fees for EPA permits charged prior to license acquisition should be scrapped off, but to be replaced with a minimal charge of not more than Ghc 2,000 and a 7.5% stake in the mine project by the government as opposed to the 10% in the large scale.

The 7.5% stake will be used to cover EPA charges, minerals commission charges, royalties and other associated charges at the District Assembly level. But how can the government take the 7.5% stake from an ongoing small scale mining project? This is where we introduce all stakeholders to PC MODEL.

THE PC MODEL is an engineering tracking tool developed to create a sustainable small scale mining sector. The model seeks to upgrade the technical and management approaches involved with the sector by employing the use of professionals in exploration, mining, mine planning, recovery, water treatment and reclamation associated with small scale mining operations. The model’s primary goal is to collect, analyse and interpret data from the sector in an engineering sense to increase productivity and efficiency whiles ensuring that safety and and adherence to environmental protection policies. The technical people will report all mining activities to the Minerals Commission and Environmental Protection Agency at the District Level. These technical people will include Geological Engineers, Mining Engineers, Minerals or Chemical Engineers and Environmental Scientists. Fair mining will be ensured, creating thousands of jobs (at least 3,000 permanent jobs) in the process. The model will also seek to bridge the gap and control to a great depth the activities of gold smuggling.

The above monitoring system is to be deployed on all sites for effective tracking of mining operations so as to get accurate data and revenue as compared to the current loose system of self reporting by the miners to the commission on their production.

We looking forward to comprehensively present the innovative PC MODEL which will help curb the small scale mining menace in Ghana to all policy makers. The solution to save the environment, and also to reduce unemployment in Ghana lies in this PC MODEL.

We would like to conclude by saying, if it can’t be mined safely, then it shouldn’t be mined at all, and we believe that a sustainable artisanal and small scale mining sector can be achieved, and it must be done, because if it’s not done, then, we’re done.

Thank you very much.

Best regards,

Godfred Oppong-Yeboah
(Mining Engineer and small scale mining consultant – Prestigio Mining Consult)

Kwasi Ntiamoah B.
(Env. & Biodiversity Director, Youth for African Star NGO) – www.youthforafricanstar.org

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