Business News of Monday, 10 July 2017
The Ghana Growth and Development Platform (GGDP) – a civil society organization – has advocated for firm and swift action to be taken by the government to legalise, advise and assist small-scale and illegal (galamsey) miners to formalize their operations.
It said this would help to control, supervise and monitor activities in the sector to help prevent environmental degradation.
At a press conference Thursday in Accra to launch a recent paper it published entitled, “The employment, income and foreign exchange effects of small-scale mining (galamsey),” GGDP said even though it supported efforts to stop galamsey, that must be done simultaneously with measures to reform illegal mining so that it could continue to provide employment, income and foreign exchange for miners, their communities and the nation at large.
Chairman of the platform, Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye, who addressed the media, said small-scale mining and galamsey should remain Ghanaian owned with employment created in the communities.
“More importantly and urgently, direct steps must be taken and alternative livelihood programmes (ALPs) must be implemented in order to reinforce the employment, local income and foreign exchange earnings of small-scale mining and thereby reduce the incentive for illegal small-scale mining activities that despoil the environment.”
Mr Essilfie Adjaye said some three programmes recently announced by the government namely, ‘one district, one factory; $1 million annual investment to support poverty alleviation in the constituencies and ‘one village, one dam,’ could be integrated into ALPs to support districts adversely affected by artisanal small-scale mining activities.
The biggest challenge, however, for ALP implementation, he said, is how to make the programmes attractive and sustain investment in them.
The small-scale mining sector generates significant amounts of foreign exchange for the economy. From 1989 to 2010, the small-scale mining sector officially produced 851,000 ounces of gold worth $467 million, representing 11.68 percent of total gold exports from Ghana.
This increased to $2.5 billion from 2011 to 2012 and decreased to about $1.8 billion in 2014. And over 200,000 people are estimated to be working in the small-scale and galamsey sector.
“Unlike the big-scale modern mines that have retention agreements that require them to repatriate only 20 percent of their export proceeds, this sector repatriates almost all its proceeds,” Mr Essilfie Adjaye posited.
In 2010, the Minerals Commission indicated that the sector contributed 23 percent of total gold production in Ghana.
“However, it must be noted that only a handful of individuals and host communities benefit from it. This situation must change so that as many Ghanaians as possible in these areas and beyond can benefit from the proceeds,” he observed.
Dwindling Agricultural Activities
He continued that the increase in mining activities had been contributing to a decrease in agricultural activities as agricultural lands are taken over for mining activities, thus creating a new challenge for agricultural production.
Data indicates that between 1990 and 1998, mining activities displaced 14 farming communities with a combined population of 30,000 persons in the Tarkwa area.
Citing Aubynn (1997), Mr Essilfie Adjaye said one-third of Ghana’s Western Region and 60 percent of the Wassa West District were now under concession to large-scale mining companies.