Some small-scale miners in the Ashanti Region have given a three-day ultimatum to the government to clarify whether it is fighting legal mining or illegal mining, otherwise known as galamsey.
They said failure on the part of the government to give further and better particulars on its fight against galamsey would compel them to embark on a demonstration in Kumasi.
However, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, has called the bluff of the small-scale miners, saying the government would not kowtow to the pressure from small-scale miners to permit them to resume operations until the expiry of the six-month suspension of small-scale mining activities in the country.
At a news conference in Kumasi last Thursday, the spokesperson of the Ashanti regional chapter of the Small-Scale Miners Association, Mr Frank Osei, said the government was poised to fight illegal mining due to its dire consequences, but not the activities of small-scale miners who were doing their mining business legally.
He said there seemed to be lack of clarity on whether small-scale mining was part of illegal or legal mining.
Mr Osei said small-scale mining was permitted under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Law 1989 and, therefore, under no circumstance could small-scale mining be classified as illegal.
Burning of excavators
He said since the expiry of the government’s ultimatum to stop illegal mining, some members of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) had suffered some losses.
Mr Osei cited an instance where some mining equipment of one member of GNASSM, Mr Patrick Agyei Dankwa, were destroyed by some youth at Atiwa last Sunday.
He added that because of the importance of mining, especially, in the area of employment, members of the GNASSM were ready to partner the government in fighting galamsey but not a fight against them.
Mr Osei said should the government make efforts to supervise their activities, it would realise that small-scale miners paid all monitoring and reclamation fees to keep their mining business since it was their source of livelihood.
Responding to the threats by the small-scale miners, Mr Amewu said, he would not yield to the call on him to allow small-scale miners to go back to their sites.
He said attempts to return to the mining sites would amount to disrespect for authority.
“We are all basically working for the good of Mother Ghana and even they themselves know they are supposed to mine in an environmentally sustainable manner…” he stated.
According to him, the plea by the miners to return to the sites “is not going to work.”
“There is a complete moratorium on the issuance of new licences and there is a ban on all small-scale mining activities in the country for a period of not less than six months and so I don’t see how they want to go beyond the directive and then go back to the site.’’
“ If they do that they will be doing that at their own risk and that will be very disrespectful to authority; which will mean that they will be taking the law into their own hands,” Mr Amewu added.
The minister said illegal mining did not pose a threat to water bodies alone but to the forest and the environment as well.