Chiefs who are involved in illegal mining in the Ashanti Region could find themselves in trouble, as the Manhyia Palace hints of investigations into galamsey (illegal mining) related issues in Amansie and Fomena respectively.
His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, who dropped the hint in Kumasi on Wednesday, said he had already warned his chiefs against engaging in such illegalities, and that he would not hesitate to sanction any traditional leader who was engaged in the act.
“Already I have had reports from Amansie and Fomena areas, and I will be investigating that to see what is happening,” he said, adding that “Myself and Asanteman oppose everything which destroys the environment and eco-system and poses substantial loss to the survival of our communities.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was speaking at the maiden Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining, which was organised by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in Kumasi on Wednesday. It was under them theme: “Sustainable Small Scale Mining for National Development.”
The event brought together stakeholders in the mining industry to dialogue on how to roll out sustainable mining for national development. Among some of these stakeholders were the Minerals Commission, Forestry Commission, Ghana Geological Service Authority, Lands Commission, Ghana Chamber of Miners, traditional leaders, and Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners among others.
The Ashanti Monarch indicated that small scale mining had the potential to contribute to livelihood empowerment and poverty alleviation of people in our local communities and beyond. However, he called for a paradigm shift in the linkage between the Ghanaian mining industry and the economy.
According to him, in recent times, Ghana has witnessed the unprecedented destruction of her own lands for agriculture, forest reserves and water bodies through illegal mining activities using sophisticated gadgets, often in partnership with foreign nationals and criminal syndicates which have no interest in our national development.
The Ashanti Monarch further acknowledged that the small scale mining was fraught with quite a number of challenges, and that there was a thin line between it and illegal mining, popularly called Galamsey.
These challenges, according to him, include the use of mercury in processing the ore of gold, and, thereby, creating public health and safety concerns, and conflicts between illegal miners and large scale miners among others.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, therefore, called for small scale mining to be done properly and responsibly within the legal framework, saying it should be designed to address the needs of mining communities.
He expressed optimism that at the end of the day, the communities would be the direct beneficiaries and not others.
According to the Ashanti Monarch, Ghana, as a country, has to look beyond the physical benefits of mining to the economy by integrating the sector, a direction, he noted, would help in the rapid development of the economy.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, on his part, said the government had already begun implementing far-reaching policies to sanitise the industry. This include a freeze on the issuance of forest entry permit by the Forestry Commission for the purposes of mining; suspension of all prospecting recognisance activities in all forest reserves; preservation of forest and water bodies as red zones; decentralisation of the enforcement mechanism, which now has the various Coordinating Councils as the forefront of the enforcement efforts; decentralisation of the licensing regimes, and others.
He disclosed that these measures had started yielding positive results, indicating that some rivers were beginning to look drinkable.
On the excavators which are used to degrade the environment, he noted that when the country is confronted with extraordinary problems, like the use of excavators to mine in river bodies was an extraordinary problem, which required extraordinary measures to deal with it.
Earlier, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei-Mensah, in a welcome address, noted that galamsey was destroying the Ghanaian environment.
This destruction, he revealed, could affect food security of the country, and that all and sundry must join the fight.
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