Minister of Mines and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, is expected to hold a meeting today, Wednesday, February 17, with members of the Small Scale Miners Association in Prestea-Huni Valley District of the Western region.
Today established that the meeting is part efforts to water down agitations by members of the Association in Prestea and also prevent a demonstration which aim is to pressurise the sector minister to resign or be relieved of his job.
The members of the association are accusing the sector minister of “shielding irresponsible mining activities of Okobeng Mining Company.”
Today’s meeting, Today understands, is aimed at discussing a plan of action on how to resolve the long-standing impasse between members of the association in Prestea and Okobeng Mining Company, a small scale company, operating gold mining activities in Prestea.
The paper further gathered that the minister will use the meeting to deny widespread media reports that he was supporting the Okobeng Mining Company to harass small-scale miners in Prestea who have licences to operate in the area.
It will be recalled that there had been fracas between members of the association in Prestea and security personnel as the former resisted further mistreatment by security personnel.
According to the small-scale miners, the alleged security personnel have been contracted by Okobeng Mining Company to harass them.
And it is also part of a ploy to enable the company extend its operations from its concession in the Nzema East Municipality to the Prestea area.
The small-scale miners added that even though the mining company’s concession was located in the Nzema East Municipality in terms of proximity, the owner of the mining company passes through Prestea when going to the concession.
According to them, the mining company claims that small-scale miners in Prestea do not have licences to operate, and were also mining on the company’s concession.
However, speaking to Today in an interview on Monday, February 15, 2016 the National Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners, Mr. Godwin Armah, confirmed that the minister has scheduled a crisis meeting with members of the association to iron out the issue with the members and the Okobeng Mining Company, owned by Nana Amposah Okobeng.
“After harassment of members of the association in Prestea by security personnel our members are accusing the sector minister of supporting the mining company to commit that atrocity on them which has the issue of fundamental human rights,” he noted.
Upon this development, Mr. Armah asserted that small-scale miners in Prestea petitioned the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners and “we quickly sent a delegation to Prestea to go and look at the situation on the grounds.”
According to him, the delegation brought a report, adding that based on that report, a petition was sent to the various stakeholders in the precious minerals industry in Ghana including the ministry of mines and natural resources so that they can conduct investigations into the allegations.
“On the issue of the demonstration we told them there was no need for demonstration as far as the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners was concerned.
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