Business News of Sunday, 22 February 2015
The ASM Africa-Network (ASMAN) is calling on Government to as a matter of priority established Ministry of Small Scale Mining; to address the numerous challenges facing the Small Scale Mining Sector ala the Energy Sector.
In a statement signed by Nii Adjetey-Kofi Mensah, Executive Director of ASM Africa-Network, concerning the directive from Parliament to Minerals Commission to draw up and furnish it with a comprehensive and sustainable road map on how the ‘galamsey’ issue should be addressed; even though a call in the right direction, will be like a wild goose chase.
This directive which stems from a report by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science and Technology, leaves the Small Scale Mining Sector hanging with crisscross ministerial bureaucracy; thus supporting the call by ASMAN for the segregation of the ASM Sector.
Recently, the Managing Director of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), Mr George Abradu-Otto crying foul as foreigners had taken undue advantage of the fact that the Minerals Commission (MINCOM) gave some few foreigners the right to purchase directly from small-scale miners; adding that, the PMMC is the only channel to buy and export minerals.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also developed the AKOBEN programme, which is an environmental performance rating and disclosure initiative in conformity with the principles of the National Environment Policy, but likewise the programme did not cover Small Scale Mining.
Although ASMAN advocated for a customized AKOBEN for ASM, there was no response, and as orphan as the ASM Sector, the value is the same. In fact, about 80% of delays in ASM licensing emanates from the EPA permitting procedure, thus encouraging ‘galamsey’ in disguise from the background.
There are more questions than answers in the ASM Sector which needs combined regulatory and stakeholder engagement, to find a lasting solution to the ‘galamsey’ menace.
Furthermore, salient regulatory bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Water Resources Commission (WRC), which heretofore relegated to the background in the fight against the galamsey menace be brought to the front line.
Finally, the pronouncement by the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Dr Tony Aubynn to streamline and categorize the ASM Sector would hit the rocks, if there are no structural changes in the management of the ASM Sector.
When the Small Scale Mining Law – 1989 (PNDCL 218) was promulgated, the ASM Project was being headed by a Director and an Assistant Director at the Minerals Commission; but currently the Head of ASM is just an Assistant Manager, thus depicting how low ASM had been relegated to the background. Needless to say, all attention is primarily focused on large-scale mining with the laws which govern small-scale mining somehow ill-favoured and inconsistent to modern norms without any appreciable empirical data available for reforms.
Nii Adjetey-Kofi concluded that Ghana also faces the challenge of ratifying the Minamata Convention and its antecedent conventions to pave way for laying down a road map for the abolishment of mercury in small-scale mining; which coupled with the categorization of the ASM Sector, re-enforces the call by ASMAN for the Establishment of the Ministry of Small Scale Mining with despatch.