Water Research Institute calls for legalization of galamsey

The Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says government will be effective at monitoring activities of small scale miners if it legalizes galamsey.

The Institute said the degeneration of illegal mining in the country is a function of the absence of effective monitoring by the relevant state institutions.

At a media encounter on galamsey held by the International Association for Impact Assessment Thursday, WRI Director, Professor Osmund Ansa-Asare appealed to government to legalise the practice instead of clamping down on it.

“Talking about legalization doesn’t mean you should leave them freely. We should organize and monitor them,” he said.

The argument by WRI is in sharp contradiction to the army of critics who have been calling for a complete ban of the activity.

Some media and religious groups have been pressurizing government to end the practice because of the damage it has done to the country’s environment.

Many of Ghana’s water bodies have been destroyed. The Tano River in the Brong Ahafo Region, that serves several communities, has dried up for the first time in 40 years.

The Brim and Densu Rivers in the Eastern Region and Ankobrah River in the Western Region have been muddied to an extent that will cost the Ghana Water Company more money for treatment before consumption.

The country’s forest reserves continue to be destroyed due to the indiscriminate and illegal mining by some citizens.

Lands Minister John Peter Amewu is leading the fight to end the practice by serving a notice to galamsey operators to halt their activities or will be made to face the law if apprehended.

He has subsequently issued a directive and asked nine mining inspectors across the country to proceed on leave because of their laxity in the galamsey fight.

A mine inspector stationed in the Eastern Region was found drunk and immediately transferred to Accra.

Available data at the Lands Ministry reveals a total of about 500 excavators used for illegal mining have been handed over to government by some of the operators.

Some traditional leaders have also joined the fray to bring an end to galamsey.  

Chief of Dunkwa Offin, Okofrobuor Obeng Nuako III on April 26 led a team to destroy 19 machines used by some galamsey operators.

Dunkwa chief with some taskforce during the destruction of galamsey machines

The machines were used by the operators to mine on River Offin that serves as the major source of water for residents in the community.

Despite the gains made since the start of the galamsey fight, the Water Research Institute said a more sustainable way of saving the country’s water bodies is to legalise the practice.

Prof Osmund Ansa-Asare said government should consider organizing the illegal miners into groups for easy monitoring of their activities.

He said the miners could be assisted in the use of technology and some chemicals like cyanide.

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