Business News of Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Government is conducting a geographical investigation into seven sites for alluvial and primary gold deposits to be demarcated for small-scale miners.
The sites, covering an area of 368 square kilometres, are among 77 sites mapped out as part of interventions to curb illegal mining activities in the country, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Alhaji Inusah Fuseini has said.
Hon. Fuseini said this to participants at the council meeting of the Ghana Chamber of Mines held in Kumasi. He observed that most of the illegal activities are on large-scale mining concessions with the active connivance of the concession-owners.
“These concession-owners are breaching the terms of their licences — and let me state that punitive measures will be taken against any concession owner who is caught collaborating with these illegal miners,” he said.
Fuseini said illegal gold prospecting should be made an expensive enterprise because the operations of the miners “have serious national security implications”. According to him the country could be moving toward a resource-curse if the menace of illegal mining is not curbed, stating that the veil must be removed to expose people behind such operations.
“The illegal miners operate close to local communities in the full glare of all stakeholders. The connivance of some chiefs, landlords, farmers and opinion-leaders with foreigners to operate in remote areas is very worrying.”
He said Government has developed guidelines for the utilisation of mining royalties by local assemblies to address complaints of inappropriate use of the royalties. “The Assemblies’ share of the royalties is no longer for recurrent expenditure. The use of revenue from royalty payment will be benchmarked to enable members of the assembly and the communities within the jurisdiction of a district assembly to track the utilisation of such royalty payments.
“Government is piloting a policy intervention to ensure mining royalties are paid monthly instead of the current quarterly basis.” Chief Executive of the Chamber of Mines, Dr. Toni Aubynn, reiterated the need for establishment of a Minerals Revenue Fund, modelled similarly to that of the Petroleum Revenue Fund, to promote development within the mining communities.
“Such Fund will allocate how much should go to Government budgets, how much to be saved for future generation, and how much goes to clearly-defined and visible developmental projects,” he said.
The President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines Mr. Dan Owiredu indicated that in spite of the direct and indirect wealth generated from the mining industry, there is still a growing perception that the wealth generated is often spent far away from the communities and environments that directly experience the adverse impact of extractive industries.
“The challenge here is for the industry to demonstrate to host communities that the benefits from mining will be used to implement programmes that enhance socio-economic development,” he said.