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Don’t Associate Us With ‘Galamsey’ - Small-Scale Miners
 
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18-Mar-2017  
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The Ghana National Association of Small- Scale Miners (GNASSM) has stated that its members are not engaged in illegal mining (galamsey) and can, therefore, not be blamed for the destruction caused to natural resources, including land and water bodies.

According to the over 700-member association, even though their businesses were legally registered and were operating within the mining laws of the country, sections of the public had tagged them as galamsey operators.

At a media interaction in Accra last Tuesday, the General Secretary of GNASSM, Mr Godwin Armah, said there was a clear distinction between legal small-scale miners and galamsey operators, and that it was unfair to lump the two together.

“The demonisation is becoming too much,” he said and challenged those who associated them with galamsey to come out with evidence.

Regrettably, he said, anytime security agencies or task forces of the state descended on illegal mining operators, some of their members were targeted, leading to destruction of their equipment.

“We don’t want to believe that there are some forces behind all these negative attacks on our members,” Mr Armah said.

The general secretary said the leadership of the association was willing to arrange a tour to their operational sites to ascertain the situation.

Issues

The environmental impact of galamsey has been a major topical issue in the country, especially as water bodies, forest resources and farms are destroyed.

Under the mining regulations, mining could only take place at least 150 metres away from rivers but the galamsey operators go to the extent of dredging the rivers.

Mr Armah said their members had nothing to do with the dredging of rivers. “That has been the work of illegal miners,” he explained.

He also indicated that their members did not engage foreigners in their operations “because the laws of the land frown on that.”

The general secretary, however, said: “In every business, there are negatives but how you manage them is what is important. It is also fair to balance the negatives with the positives.”

He stated that their members placed emphasis on reclamation of mined lands.

“Even big mining companies do illegal things, for instance, cyanide spillage,” Mr Armah claimed.

“We are doing a lot to reduce the use of mercury in our operations,” he stated.

Mr Armah pledged the readiness of the GNASSM to collaborate with the government to fight illegal mining activities.

Contribution

According to him, the association has made positive contributions to the country’s socio-economic development.

“We pay our taxes to the government, we currently offer direct employment to over one million people and we honour our corporate social responsibilities,” he said.

Mr Armah said between 2014 and 2016, the contribution of the small-scale sector to mineral production was about 34 per cent of total national production, “which translates to billions of dollars in terms of forex.”

He added that currently no big company mined diamond in Ghana. “100 per cent of the mining of diamond is done by the small-scale sector.”
 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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