The Minister Designate for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie is proposing some draconian measures to halt the activities of illegal mining in the country.

Ghana continues to witness the disastrous effects of illegal mining popularly known as galamsey, as the various water bodies, forest and other endowed rich natural mineral resources are being destroyed with impunity.

Appearing before the Vetting Committee of Parliament on Friday, the Minister designate noted that, even though illegal mining has been with Ghanaians for a long time, the rate at which it is being carried out in recent times called for tough measures to save the environment.

“Galamsey has been with us for a long time and people have harvested gold from the bowel of the earth since millennia but it was with the introduction of heavy earth moving equipment that the menace became very very serious”, he said.

He proposed that, earth moving equipment in the mining sector including excavators must be severely regulated and must be equal to the registered mining sites in a particular community.

“But even more importantly, we should have a census of excavators in this country and we should even consider a temporary ban on them. Because when you bring the excavators to this country, what are they coming to do. I have contractors, my engineering friends and they have an idea how many excavators we need in the road sector for example, so if you take it from the population of excavators in this country, it means they are all destined towards the small-scale mining sector”, he added.

“So we should have the census, decommissioned some of them, sale them off and then put a ban on their importation and by attrition get the numbers that we can use to do small scale mining”, the Minister designate further proposed.

Dr Afriyie also made mention of the washing plants popularly known as “Chamfan” in the chain of the illegal mining activities which are being sold by the roadside in all the mining areas across the country and are manufactured by local electrical engineers and blacksmiths.

“They are for single purpose use and they are destined towards the water bodies so we should criminalize the unlicensed manufacture of washing plants because you know that, that washing plants is going to be used to do galamsey in water bodies”, he said.

He has therefore suggested that, the various District Assemblies regulate the activities of the manufacturing of the mining washing plants, to enable miners with special permit take delivery of them.

The Minister Designate for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie
A call for national dialogue

President Akufo Addo in his last state of the nation address on Tuesday January 5, 2021, called for an open and dispassionate conversation about illegal mining and its future.

He said the devastating nature of illegal mining required from leaders the duty to take the subject out of the party-political arena and engage in an honest conversation about the menace for the sake of current and future generations.

“There is one subject about which I believe we, the people, need to have an open conversation, and that is galamsey. Should we allow or should we not allow galamsey, the illegal mining that leads to the pollution of our water bodies and the devastation of our landscape? he asked

He added “As I have said often, the Almighty having blessed us with considerable deposits of precious minerals, there would always be mining in Ghana. Indeed, there has always been mining in Ghana. The problem we have is the use of modern technology that leads to the illegal mining methods posing serious dangers to our water bodies and the health of our environment.

According to Dr Afriyie, the call by the President is in the right direction as national dialogue is needed in order to bring lasting solution to the menace.

“We must have a national dialogue and say that our generation is perhaps becoming too selfish, the gold in the bowel of the earth of Ghana does not belong to our generation alone so we must regulate it severely…….There should be a regulation for a certain square kilometer that one can mine just like frequency modulation is regulated”.

He said, successive governments have failed to deal with the menace and multisectoral approach with an honest discussion is needed to get lasting solution to the problem.

Story by Kaakyire Badu- Accra