President John Dramani Mahama, has directed Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAS) to take the necessary steps to stop all illegal mining activities in their areas of jurisdiction.
The President equally directed District Security Councils and traditional authorities to ensure that all persons involved in illegal mining are arrested and prosecuted, else they would be held responsible for non compliance of the directives.
“In mining areas, this would constitute one such benchmark to ascertain performance,” the president noted.
His directive was contained in a speech read on his behalf by the Western Regional Minister, Mr Ebenezer Teye Addo at the re-commissioning of an underground mine operation by the Golden Star Resources Bogoso/ Prestea Gold Mining Limited on Friday, at Prestea in the Western Region.
The function attracted people from Prestea and its environs, both young and old dressed in their rich kente and traditional clothing to witness the re-opening of the underground mine
The President said mining in Ghana must benefit Ghanaians; therefore government is determined to ensure that all forms of illegal mining are stamped out to preserve lives, the environment and public health.
Ghana, he said, continue to nurture its shared interest in the mines, therefore there was the “need learn, work and pray together to achieve success.”
President Mahama pointed out that Ghana’s mining regulations have significant room of operation for any person who wants to go into small-scale mining, but to do so, they must follow the laid down procedure and acquire the necessary permits for any mining operation.
The process, however, requires that small scale activities are monitored by the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, and that, pits created are supervised to avoid accidents.
He said the illegal mining phenomenon has bedevilled the country in alarming proportions and its associated human cost, as over 300 people died last year whilst 17 others lost their lives recently.
As a people, he said, “we cannot afford to lose the productive part of the society through unauthorised illegal activities hence the need to adopt pragmatic measures to curb the menace.”
President Mahama admonished the management of the Mining Company to adhere to local content provisions in the country’s mining regulation, as well as ensuring that procurement procedures favour Ghanaian entrepreneurs.
He said the major players in the company and the people of the community must resolve to work together with a collective sense of purpose in the greater interest of the economy.
Mr Sam Coetzer Chief Executive Officer of Golden Star Resources stated that 200 people have been trained to operate in underground mining and pledged that funds would be sought to develop the mine, as well as the community.
Mr Coetzer assured that the company would ensure the safety of its workers and the community as management was mindful of its corporate social responsibility.
Mr Daniel Owiredu, Executive Vice President of the mining company, said Golden Star Resource for the past 14 years of its operation had invested over 400 million dollars into the “Bogoso/Prestea mine alone.
Currently, he said, Golden Star Resources has two subsidiaries, made up of the Wassa Mines in the Mpohor East district and Bogoso/Prestea Mines in the Wassa Fiase district.
He said in June 2001 the Company was granted the surface rights over the Prestea concession and has since undergone transformation for a safer working environment for maximum work efficiency, adding that, the mine has three shafts.
According to Mr Owiredu, a total of 73.2 million US dollar was invested into the rehabilitation of the company.
The Omanhene of Fiase Traditional area, Osagyefo Dr Kwamina Enimil commended the company for operating an underground mine, since all the mining in the area had been surface mining.
He expressed the readiness of the people to support the company to survive and create jobs for the youth.
Osagyefo Enimil however, called for the rehabilitation of the deplorable roads and the construction of a Training College, saying that, a land has been made available for such purposes.
Osagyefo Enimil and Mr Coetzer pressed the button to mark the beginning of the underground mining of the company
Most of the people at the function were of the opinion that the operation of the mine would reduce the environmental hazards they had been exposed to as well as enhance their livelihood.