General News of Wednesday, 13 September 2017
The fight against illegal mining would have been better served if government engaged small-scale miners instead of banning them, a spokesperson for small-scale miners in the Ashanti Region has suggested.
The spokesperson, Francis Opoku, noted that the government kept aligning small scale miners with illegalities hence their protest in Kumasi on Tuesday.
The protest was against the government’s temporary ban on all forms of small-scale mining in the country, which they said was to end in August.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Opoku said the confusion over the ban was as a result of poor planning from the government.
“… the handling of the whole hullabaloo about illegal mining has not been organised properly. Even for the date of the ban, there is a question. It was a statement from the minister. Nothing was documented. While we believe that it was supposed to end in August, the government is saying that it is supposed to end in September.
Government’s clamp down on illegal small scale miners and moves to conserve the environment, saw it place a six-month ban on all forms of small-scale mining.
But Mr. Opoku stressed that, small-scale miners did not have “anything to do with illegalities” as they were “licensed people who have gone through the process to have their licences.”
He noted further that Small-scale Miners’ association was so well organised that the association has been able to “mobilize members to the extent that when we say sleep, they sleep. When we say come out, they come out.”
“So the government should rather take advantage of the fact that we are well organised to let us go back to work,” Mr. Opoku stated.
As an example, in response to illegal miners polluting rivers running into Cote d’Ivoire, he said the association set up task-forces to fight the illegal miners “to the admiration of even the government. They came out to commend us.”