General News of Sunday, 1 October 2017
Indications are that the ban on small-scale mining meant to sanitize the mining industry and curb illegal mining will be extended.
The initial six-month ban was set to end in October 2017, but the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, has said the extension of the ban is inevitable because the moratorium had not achieved a substantial amount of its objectives.
During a tour of some mining sites in the Amenfi East District, Mr. Amewu expressed his displeasure with the state of affairs concerning the protection of the environment, and said he will propose before cabinet an extension of the moratorium.
Speaking to the media, he even said President Nana Akufo-Addo “thinks sincerely that a lot more needs to be done and we will all have to look into it.”
A concrete announcement on the extension is to be expected next week, Mr. Amewu said.
Per his assessment, the government is still far off from its targets, in the fight against illegal mining.
“I graded what we have done to about 15 percent, so there is about 85 percent to cover up. So it tells you extensive work still needs to be done… A target rate of 60 to 65 percent can give us some confidence of going back.”
Thus, the Minister stated that “at this stage, I don’t think it is proper for us to say go back [to mining]. We cannot do that and they [the small-scale miners] themselves know.”
The miners have complained that the government’s clamp down on illegal mining activities has seen them treated like illegal miners.
They lamented that Small Scale Miners did their best to satisfy the very rigorous legal regimes under the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), in order to obtain licenses to operate thus, treating them like illegal miners was unfair.
They also recently protested over the temporary ban placed on small-scale mining activities, asserting that the ban was to end in September.
But being more definitive on the matter, Mr. Amewu concluded that, “of course, there is going to be an extension because we haven’t achieved what we are looking for, but we have put in modalities and during the extension period, a lot will be done.”