Professor Richard Kwasi Amankwah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology delivering his address
The University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), in collaboration with the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) with support from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Commission, on Wednesday, 2nd June, 2021, celebrated the maiden edition of Sustainable Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Awareness Day. The celebration, which took place at the University Campus was held to create awareness on the need to adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly methods in small scale mining.
In his address, Professor Richard Kwasi Amankwah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology stated that small-scale gold mining was regularised by the PNDC Law 218, which was gazetted on 2nd June 1989. He went further to state that by the regularisation, gold production has increased from 2.2% to 43% of national production and this has helped to keep Ghana among the top 10 gold producing countries worldwide.
According to Prof Amankwah, the small-scale mining sector employs about one million people directly and this number positively affects the lives of about 20% of Ghana’s population. He added that if the Small-Scale gold mining sector is given the opportunity to operate at its capacity, the sector can grow to become an enviable space. This, he said, ‘makes the ASM sector a unique one that requires special discussions and uniquely tailored approaches to address its challenges. Such approaches will ensure the fulfillment of its socio-economic potential and invariably help in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals’.
Prof Richard K. Amankwah however, stated that, the countless challenges associated with the ASM sector such as environmental degradation, bad safety records, pollution of water bodies among others have been the predominant highlights of the sector to the neglect of other challenges like inadequate ASM-based regulatory and policy frameworks and undefined supply chains. He noted that Governments over the years have introduced several reforms and strategies to streamline the ASM sector but these have largely not been too successful.
The Vice Chancellor recounted how the ban placed on ASM activities in 2017 could not achieve the intended purpose of reducing the turbidity of water bodies and stopping mining in forest zones. He, nonetheless, expressed optimism that the small-scale mining sector will rise and take its rightful position if the needed attention is given to the sector. ‘I still believe that sustainable and responsible small-scale mining is possible’ Prof Amankwah stated.
Prof Amankwah opined that the challenges facing the ASM sector have necessitated the need for avenues to promote dialogue regarding development opportunities and challenges of ASM, foster partnership among stakeholders as well as provide a platform for the voices of ASM workers/operators and communities to be heard. The celebration has thus been set for every 2nd June to be used as a platform to find appropriate solutions to the challenges and ensure maximum achievement of the socio-economic potential of the sector without compromising the sustainability of the environment. ‘It is the position of all gathered here, UMaT, GNASSM, Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and the Gold Region, that is Western Region with its able Minister that we work towards win-win’, Prof Amankwah stated.
Hon Dr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, the Western Regional Minister assured participants that Government will work hand-in-hand with stakeholders of the ASM sector to ensure the maximum socio-economic benefit of the sector to the economy of Ghana. He also emphasised that, Government will ensure that the activities of ASM operators do not negatively affect water bodies and the forests reserves. He lauded UMaT for creating the platform to engage stakeholders of the ASM sector and entreated the operators of the ASM sector to obey approved regulations and guidelines for their operations.
Hon Dr Kwabena OkyereDarko-Mensah, the Western Regional Minister, making his remarks
The National Secretary of the GNASSM, Mr Godwin Amah expressed the support of GNASSM to Government and appealed to Government to relook at the military intervention in the fight against illegal mining and rather use a more sustainable approach. He applauded UMaT for organising the celebration and stated that GNASSM will extend its support to the University in the efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable mining among the ASM operators.
Mr Godwin Amah, the National Secretary of GNASSM, delivering his address
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the University of Mines and Technology and the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners to commit ASM operators to sustainable and responsible mining. This was the second MoU between UMaT and GNASSM.
Prizes were given to three Basic Schools who competed in the finals of the maiden edition of the Sustainable Small-Scale Mining Awareness Quiz held on Tuesday, 1st June, 2021. The 3rd school was St Peter’s Anglican JHS, Akoon with Nsuaem M/A B JHS placing 2nd. The 1st position was won by Nana Amoakwa Model School, Damang.
The celebration was attended by Hon Benjamin Kesse, Municipal Chief Executive of the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality, Nana Kwesi Attobrah II, Divisional Chief of Esuoso, Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Police Commander, Tarkwa Divisional Police Commander, Municipal Officers of the Environmental Protection Agency, Minerals Commission and the Forestry Commission, members of GNASSM from Ashanti, Greater Accra and Western Region and some selected students of the University.
Three UMaT Officials: Assoc Prof Anthony Simons, Pro Vice Chancellor (right), Mr M. K. Okrah, Registrar (middle) and Prof Grace Ofori-Sarpong, Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies (left)
Hon Benjamin Kesse, Municipal Chief Executive, Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality
Some Guests: Chief Supt Thomas Osei-Ababio, Municipal Police Commander (left), Chief Supt A. G. Kumah, Tarkwa Divisional Commander (middle) and Mr Vincent Appiah, Municipal Manager, Forestry Commission (right)
Teacher and Pupils of Nana Amoakwa Model JHS, Damang receiving their certificate from Assoc Prof George Adjei, Head of Mining Engineering Department, UMaT
Source: T. B. Eshun
University Relations Office