We must protect mining industry – Minerals Commission

By
Justina Paaga, GNA

Gwira (W/R) Oct 7, GNA – Mr Joseph Bassaw of
the Western Region Minerals Commission, has called on stakeholders to protect
the mining industry as part of measures of curb illegal mining in the country.

“Let’s come together and see the mining
industry as ours and as stakeholders we should be interested in knowing what
happens to our mining industry, “he said

Mr Bassaw said this during a day’s
sensitization workshop on “Mineral right and the impact of illegal mining
activities on the environment” held at Gwira in the Nzema East Municipality in
the Western Region.

The participants, made up of chiefs, assembly
members, unit committees the Police, Immigration, Fire service and Environmental
Health Service, were taken through the procedures for granting mineral rights
in the country and the Impact of illegal mining on the environment.

Mr Bassaw said the mining sector has
consistently been the highest gross foreign exchange earner from 1999 to date
and is also a major employer.

He said 28,000 people were in the large scale
mining industry and about 1,000,000 people were engaged in small scale mining
of gold adding that aside the employment of about one million people directly
in the sector, artisanal small scale mining currently contributes about 34
percent of gold production.

He said globally artisanal small scale mining
is seen as a source of subsistence for the poor, especially in developing
countries, it also offers opportunities to support rural livelihood and develop
entrepreneurships.

Mr Bassaw said though Artisanal Small Scale
Mining (ASM) has some benefits,  it also
has serious effects on humans due to the use of 
chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, stressing that the exposure to
mercury could affect the nervous system, leading to neurological symptoms such
as nervousness, anxiety  irritability or
mood changes, numbness.

He said apart from ASM  affecting the health of people it also has
social impact such as over population, family disorganization,  increase in school  dropouts, prostitution, drug abuse and high
cost of living,

Mr Bassaw said it could  also bring about child labour, human rights
issue  and occupational Health and Safety
adding that it could also result in land degradation, destruction of  food and cash crops, direct discharge of
slimes and effluents into surface water bodies resulting in siltation of water
bodies,

It also causes the pollution of streams and
rivers resulting in increased costs of water treatment, rendering water unsafe
for drinking, increased exposure illegal mining to mercury, cyanide dust and
other chemicals and vulnerability to the effect of noise vibration poor
ventilation and over exertion and deforestation.

Mr Desmond K. Boahen, an official of the
Minerals Commission, who took the participants through procurement for granting
mineral rights in the country, said there were laws guiding the mining industry
which binds all stakeholders.

He urged chiefs, land owners and opinion
leaders to always endeavour to scrutinize licenses prospective miners present
to them before allowing them to mine in their concession areas.

Mr Boahen said each license has it land area
to cover and period minerals could mined in the area.

He said reconnaissance licence, prospecting
licence, mining lease, restricted reconnaissance and prospecting licences,
restricted mining lease, small scale mining licence, were some of the type of
mineral rights.

Mr Boahen said it is important for all
institutions playing roles in the promotion and regulation of mining sector
worked together so as to solve all the teething problems facing the mining
industry.   

Awulae Angamatuo Gyan II Paramount chief of
Gwira, said there is the need to prosecute local authorities of areas where
illegal mining activities are being undertaken.

He also called on assembly members, unit
committees, area council members to do more and report all illegal mining
activities to chiefs for the necessary action to be taken.

He also urged NCCE to intensify their public
education on the effects of illegal mining in the society.

GNA

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