Allow Us To Mine – Miners To Government

The Ashanti regional branch of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has called on government to allow its members to go back to work after being rendered jobless for three months.

“…To the government, we say three months is enough; allow us to go back to work," the group said in a statement.

To help protect water bodies and save the forests from depletion, the Akufo-Addo-led government has launched a war on illegal small-scale mining which has resulted in a six-month moratorium on all forms of small-scale mining activities in the country.

However, the GNASSM said it was not to blame for the destruction of water bodies and the depletion of the forest cover as has been miscommunicated to their disadvantage.

“We have demonstrated enough commitment to fighting this canker and have pledged our unflinching support for the fight by setting up anti-illegal mining taskforces across the regions to clamp down on defiant galamseyers who operate with the infamous ‘Chang Fan’ engines on our rivers. There is demonstrable evidence to the inroads made so far, for which the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has publicly commended us,” the group said in a statement.

According to the group, their operations benefit the country in the following ways:

1. Close to 97 per cent of all gold wedding rings and ornaments are derived from us.

2. We pay taxes to the government. (This goes to confirm that we are not illegal).

3. We have downsized the rural-urban migration. (Youth in our catchment areas prefer to earn a living in their own hometowns).

4. We contribute to the stabilisation of the Ghana cedi against major foreign currencies. (Any wonder our currency has taken a nosedive ever since we were thrown out of business)?

5. Our corporate social responsibilities are testament to the development our catchment areas. (More kids have been sent back to school, more communities have been connected to the national grid, and many more now have access to potable drinking water).

6. Small-scale mining contributes an average of US$7million every month to the economy of Ghana.

“We wish to commend the role of the media in this whole crusade against illegal mining and its effects, but call on them to afford us a fair hearing and come to the grounds to acquaint themselves with the bare facts. We wish to re-echo our commitment to the fight against galamsey, and to the government we say three months is enough; allow us to go back to work,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the group is also demanding an apology and retraction from former Central Regional Minister and MP for Cape Coast South, Kweku Ricketts-Hagan for suggesting a 10-year ban on small-scale mining in the country.

Mr Hagan is of the view that illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, is thriving in the country due to the issuance of small-scale licences. Even though small-scale mining is legal and reserved for Ghanaians, he observed that galamsey had become an offshoot of small-scale mining.

For him, it was time government placed an ultimatum for at least a decade when the lands and water bodies destroyed by galamsey would have recovered and a more comprehensive solution implemented to prevent further harm to the environment.

“This small-scale mining, is it something that we should encourage in the first place? ...Could we bring an end to this thing for some number of years?…Let’s do a ban for about 10 years,” he told Umaru Sandah, host of Citi FM’s The Big Issue, on Saturday, May 27.

But this has angered the GNASSM which said it found the legislator's comments “distasteful, disrespectful, backward-looking, and unparliamentary” given that small-scale mining is a legitimate business which is backed by the laws of Ghana.

“We hereby demand a retraction and apology from the honourable MP, if he has any regard for the laws of this country and the rights of work for its citizens,” the group said.