In one of his hilarious but educative movies, the late Nigerian actor, Sam Loco Efe described someone this way and I quote “Your past is damaged, your present is bleak and future overturn”, end of quote.
Relating his quote to the fight against illegal mining in Ghana, it is very clear that our past as a country to find lasting solution to the menace has been DAMAGED considering the failure by successive governments, and the picture is BLEAK regarding the present solution, with the future clearly OVERTURN if something urgent is not done about it.
In other words, successive governments have employed all kinds of solution to bring sanity to the mining sector, including using the military through operation galamstop, but very little had been achieved, as Ghana continue to witness disastrous effect of illegal mining, with the various water bodies, forest and other endowed rich natural resources being destroyed with impunity
A solution is clearly needed and with all urgency to help deal with the activities of illegal mining. So, eyes were watching and ears were listening with rapt attention when on Wednesday February 24, 2021, the vetting committee of parliament posed a question to the Minister-designate for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Jinapor as to how he was going to solve the menace of illegal mining.
And as part of the solution he proffered, Mr Jinapor indicated that, one of the ways of solving the issue of illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ will be the adoption of community mining in the country.
According to him, with regulated small-scale mining, the country will be able to do away with illegal mining activities that degrade the land.
This, he said, can be achieved with the support of chiefs and other stakeholders involved in constructing a viable national policy around illegal mining.
“We need to pursue this concept of community mining; I have looked at the literature and taken a lot of briefings, and I think that is the way forward,” he said.
“We need broad-based support; we need the support of chiefs and all shareholders so we can construct viable support around this national policy. We can build here in Ghana a sustainable, viable, regulated small scale mining which has regard for the environment and do away with illegal mining which degrades the environment,” he furthered.
He added that the fight against illegal mining will be tough he is committed to applying the laws in relation to illegal mining.
“I agree that you will often have people in your own party and chiefs trying to frustrate the [fight against illegal mining] but I want to give a firm assurance that if I get the approval of Parliament, I’m moving in there with all humility and modesty to apply the law without few or favour.” he added.
But has community mining been successful so far?
It was in November, 2019 that the current NPP government gave a green light for the commencement of regulated, responsible and sustainable mining under the Community Mining Programme (CMP).
At a ceremony to inaugurate the CMP programme, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the then Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation explained that, the programme was a major step towards reducing illegal small-scale mining, formalizing mining activities as well as give all miners training and official cover.
He announced that, as part of measures to achieve the goals of the programme, all the registrants to the programme would be trained at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa to have their licensed before they could start mining.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng stated at the time that, unlike the previous practice where small-scale mining was done haphazardly, the CPM would be inclusive, well-regulated with a dedicated central processing site adequately equipped. He added that, it would stop the old practice of mining in water bodies and the proceeds would be well allocated to all relevant bodies.
But, after a year of operation, it is very clear that, the programme has failed to live up to expectation as it is unregulated and unsustainable. Thus, the CMP has led to mining being done haphazardly, with the destruction of land and water bodies being carried out with impunity by the miners.
According to Mr Jinapor, he has looked at the literature and taken a lot of briefings, leading to his conclusion that, the CMP is the way to go.
But, I will urge the Minister designate to review the literature about his intention to continue with the community mining scheme. This is because, the review will help him to come to terms with the fact that, our water bodies, including the Densu and Birim river, all in the Eastern Region which combine to supply water to five million Ghanaians, is on the brink, as a result of the activities of these community miners.
The Kyebi Water Treatment Plant was also recently shut down by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) as a result of the high pollution of the river bodies in the area by these miners operating under the guise of community mining.
Not even the recent arrest by the Police has stopped the miners and it will be a disaster for the Minister designate to give his backing to the failed programme.
Community Mining is galamsey rebranding
Below is what the Deputy Director of the environmental NGO, A Rocha Ghana, Daryl Bosu, recently wrote about Community Mining on his facebook page after his team came across a mining site at Potroase, a town close to Kyebi.
He wrote “Community Mining in its present form and nature considered a better option of galamsey is just a rebranding of galamsey, that has been given political assent, nothing more than that.
It is completely senseless and just another opportunity of the political class and their cohorts to continue plundering our rivers, forests, and the sanctity of our communities, with their greedy lifestyles.
My team came across this mining site at Potroase, a town close to Kyebi. A mining company, supposedly with permits from certain Chiefs and under the cover of Community Mining, busily destroying the Densu River, destroying farms, and working close to the homes of people who live in the community.
In this picture, you see kids so exposed on their way to get water from the same river this company is mining. The Community is at the mercy of this company and its agents. The community is powerless because people they consider as their Chiefs and leaders in the Community are behind this, all in the name of
Community Mining. Every effort to get these miners off the sight is proving an uphill task.
Why do we call it Community Mining when the people with more than 80% stake in the enterprise are not even from the Community?
This is a shameful, senseless, and a complete abuse of the rights of these communities to healthy environment. Unfortunately, it gets worse by the day.
Is there no leadership in this country? Why have we allowed ourselves to value gold resources so much that we do not care for the wellbeing of our own people. Just look at the pictures, situated next to gold resources yet so impoverished and vulnerable.
Years ago, we blamed the Chinese for destroying our lands, rivers, and forests. Who are we going to blame now? SHAME ON US ALL”, he ended.
By Yaw Bibibii