Review approach in ‘galamsey’ fight – Benjamin Aryee
The Special Advisor to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benjamin Aryee, has underscored the need for the government to take a holistic look at the approach it adopted in the fight against illegal mining if the desired impact is to be made.
He said better results would have been achieved if the government had incorporated the Ghana National Association of Small-scale Miners (GNASSM) in the strategy to tackle the menace, instead of the wholesale ban on all forms of small-scale mining.
Eliminating child labour
Mr Aryee made the observation in an interview with the Daily Graphic at the ongoing international workshop on eliminating child labour in the mining sector in Obuasi in the Ashanti Region.
The workshop, under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has drawn participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire.
“Considering what the government has done so far in fighting ‘galamsey’ and the results that are showing, I am of the view that we left out the licensed small-scale miners too much in the approach that was adopted,” he said.
According to him, the government had a point in taking drastic measures to fight the menace because it was difficult to identify legitimate and illegitimate small-scale miners under the crisis situation.
“If we had looked at what existed a bit more, we could have found out that there were legitimate operators who were even fighting illegalities in the small-scale mining sector in their own small way,” Mr Aryee said.
Touching on the International Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) and whether or not it was still relevant, he said it was time for a decision to be taken on the status of the committee in the scheme of things.
“The IMCIM was not put in place to be permanent because it was an interim thing to deal with the crisis. We will have to transit to legally mandated state institutions such as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director of Operations of the GNASSM, Mr Emmanuel Yirenkyi Antwi, said the mixed results from the fight against illegal mining had vindicated the association.
“During the call for a ban on all forms of small-scale mining, we stated categorically that if there was a wholesale ban, the government would set aside the law that regulated small-scale mining and that we felt discriminated against because large-scale miners were left untouched,” he said.
“I want to place on record that GNASSM supports the fight against illegal mining and that we will promote responsible mining. However, we were and still are against the wholesale ban on all forms of small-scale mining,” he said.
He said the time had come for the IMCIM to make way for the mandated state institutions to resume their duties because “the results we have from the ‘galamsey’ fight are not commensurate with the efforts put into the fight”.
During the period of the ban, which lasted until December 14, 2018, when it was lifted, hundreds of excavators, chanfan machines and other equipment were seized by the Operation Vanguard team.
However, a year after the lifting of the ban, many people and institutions are of the view that the ‘galamsey’ fight had been a wild goose chase, especially in the wake of the brouhaha that some 500 excavators that were seized could not be accounted for.
Reports of the widespread resurgence of illegal mining had also left many people casting a negative verdict on the fight against the menace.