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Government To Lift Ban On Small-Scale Mining Soon; Road Map Rolled Out   
 
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17-Aug-2018  
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Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation
 
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A roadmap for the government to lift the ban on small-scale mining was rolled out in Accra on Thursday.

Although the roadmap does not state the specific time the ban will be lifted, there are indications that it may happen before Christmas this year, depending on how the implementation of the roadmap is done.

At a forum on the roadmap in Accra, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who presented the roadmap, said the checklist to guide the decision by the government to lift the ban would include the removal of all earth-moving mining equipment within districts to designated areas to be announced next week.

“I cannot say exactly when the ban will be lifted, but I know that the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, wants small-scale miners to celebrate their Christmas, well but that will depend on how the implementation of the roadmap goes,” he said.

Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the industry who were at the forum sounded disappointed, saying they had come with high hopes that the ban would be lifted Thursday or a definite timeline would be given for the lifting.

Moratorium

A six-month moratorium was imposed on small-scale mining on April 1, 2017, to curb illegal mining and its negative impact on biodiversity and health.

However, the ban has been extended till now because its desired impact is yet to be achieved.

An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), headed by Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, was constituted, with the mandate to enforce the ban and develop a comprehensive roadmap to guide the activities of small-scale miners to ensure sustainable mining and protect the environment.

Highlights of roadmap

The highlights of the roadmap, which was developed by the IMCIM, include stopping the operational activities of large-scale mining companies that have flouted laid down regulations, halting the activities of prospecting companies engaged in bulk sampling and processing, withdrawing all military and para-military personnel from concessions of large-scale mining companies that have gone contrary to laid down regulations, sensitisation and educational tours of mining communities.

Others are establishing the quality of water bodies, vetting and verifying licences of all small-scale mining companies, registering and installing tracking devices on earth-moving equipment and lifting the ban on small-scale mining and publishing the list of successfully vetted small-scale miners.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the road map was expected to facilitate the reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas, the restoration of impacted water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licences and associated permits and continued formalisation and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.

Tracking devices

Throwing more light on the road map, he said all earth-moving mining equipment within districts would be moved to designated areas to be fixed with tracking devices for effective monitoring.

He said the equipment and its drivers had to comply with regulations of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).

He said the initiative, which would be jointly implemented by the Minerals Commission and the DVLA, was to ensure that such equipment was used appropriately and in appropriate locations. 

Vetting and verification

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said as part of the road map, from September 2018, all the 1,350 legally registered artisanal and small-scale mining companies would be vetted again and verified.

“The exercise will be led by the IMCIM, supported by traditional leaders, stakeholder agencies and other stakeholders,” he said.

The documents of artisanal and small-scale mining companies to be vetted would include mining licences, environmental and operating permits, tax identification numbers (TINs) and company registration details.

The minister indicated that the vetting schedule would be announced in the media, stating all requirements for the exercise.

He said subsequently the boundaries of all artisanal and small-scale mining concessions would be technologically set out to verify their existence and accuracy to provide a further baseline for all such concessions and their locations linked to the GhanaPost Digital Addressing system for effective monitoring.
He noted that companies that would go through the process successfully would be issued with ID cards with QR codes that had all their company and operational information for easy monitoring.

Additionally, signposts with miners’ permit details would also be erected and characterised with the QR codes containing every operational information about them to facilitate monitoring.
All successful companies would subsequently have their names published in the media, he added.

Monitoring

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the IMCIM had facilitated the development of a software application that would be used for the strict monitoring of illegal mining activities henceforth.

Known as the GalamSTOP, it is an electronic reporting software which will integrate data from stakeholder regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Mineral’s Commission, the Water Resources Commission and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

The software will be used to monitor the life cycle of mining and related permits within the artisanal and small-scale mining sector, as well as help generate weekly reports on illegal mining activities.

“Currently, it has been installed on 80 ruggedised tablets that have been procured by the committee for the ad hoc District Committees on Illegal Mining (DCIMs) which were created by the IMCIM to enhance its work at the grass roots,” he said.

Ad hoc committees

He said the IMCIM had formed ad hoc DCIMs to decentralise the work of the IMCIM for effectiveness.

So far, 60 of such DCIMs had been created and they had representatives from the Minerals Commission, the EPA, the Forestry Commission, traditional councils, MMDAs, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), among others, he said.

“The DCIMs are expected to address artisanal and small-scale mining issues that will emerge within the MMDAs, educate and organise small-scale miners within the MMDAs, help eliminate illegal mining activities, promote sustainable mining in the districts and municipalities, among other duties,” he said.

Drones

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the IMCIM would occasionally dispatch teams equipped with high-technology drones that were all-weather-condition friendly to monitor mining sites and forest reserves selected randomly to pick up illegalities in the sector.

He said one of such drones had been procured for all districts and municipalities within which DCIMs had been created.

He said through the Nation Builders Corp (NaBCo) initiative, 144 drone pilots had been trained.

Pre-ban lifting activities

The minister explained that other activities in the road map included boosting public sensitisation on the impact of illegal mining, stopping large-scale mining companies that were flouting the law and halting the activities of prospecting companies engaged in bulk sampling and processing.

There would also be an assessment of water quality, particularly in relation to turbidity and the presence of heavy metals, the withdrawal of all military and para-military personnel from mining concessions and the strengthening of the Operation Vanguard to become the only security apparatus in the fight against illegal mining to enhance operational efficiency, he said.

Work of the IMCIM so far

Throwing more light on the IMCIM, he said in line with its mandate, it had undertaken a number of activities geared towards sanitising the mining sector, including imposing the ban, public education on the negative impact of illegal mining, training of 3,000 artisanal small-scale miners (ASM) and 15 media personnel in sustainable mining and mineral processing practices at the University of Mines and Technology.

Others are the institution of Operation Vanguard to prevent further pollution of rivers and water bodies and conducting training in drone piloting and analysis, with 203 drone pilots and data analysts from Operation Vanguard, the Minerals Commission, the IMCIM and DCIMs being trained.

“The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and its Department of Community Development are implementing alternative livelihood programmes in 15 selected districts in five regions adversely affected by illegal mining as well,” he added.
 
 
 

 
 
Source: Graphic.com.gh
 
 

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