UMaT Hosts a National Stakeholder’s Validation Workshop on the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) on how to Control Illegal Mining in Ghana

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 Hon John Peter AmewuDelivering his Address
Hon John Peter Amewu Delivering his Address
 
The University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) has hosted a National stakeholder’s Validation Workshop on how to control illegal mining in Ghana. The Workshop was attended by 265 participants including a Member of the Council of State, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, District Chief Executives, Traditional Rulers, Civil Society Organisations, the Media, Opinion Leaders, Officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Small Scale Miners.
 
The Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) is a five-year project designed in collaboration with key stakeholders to control the galamsey menace. The project document was developed by technical experts and advisors in close collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), other sector ministries and key implementing agencies, with the Minerals Commission (MC) as the lead. A series of consultations were done at all levels to discuss the adopted approaches and activities required to establish and implement the project.
 
In his welcome address to the participants, the Vice Chancellor, Prof J. S. Y. Kuma reiterated the importance of the small-scale mining industry in the Ghanaian economy and said the sector contributed over 30% of the total gold production and employed over one million workers. The sector according to him also contributed to job creation, local economic development, foreign exchange generation, provision of gold for the local industries and the evolution of indigenous enterprises. He said the small-scale mining industry was therefore an important sector in the Ghanaian economy which needed to be properly managed to ensure its sustainability.
 
Prof Kuma observed that in spite of the positives in the small-scale mining industry, unfortunately, their operations were characterised by illegality, social conflicts and negative environmental, health and safety impacts. He further said that management of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) at the local level in certain regions of the country had become a very complex issue as foreigners, in collaboration with Ghanaians, were involved in this activity thereby causing immense environmental degradation especially pollution of water bodies and destruction of farms and farmlands. He further noted that the situation was getting out of control as the activity appeared to have gained support from some land owners and other authorities. According to him the majority of illegal ASMs were also working on concessions demarcated to large-scale mining companies, in many cases creating conflicts, human rights abuses, and health and safety risks.
 
Prof Kuma informed the participants that UMaT has been involved in the small-scale mining sector of Ghana for many years and was ready to do more to ensure, among other things, resource optimisation and environmental stewardship. He further said that UMaT believes that part of the strategy for addressing the ASM problem was education, enforcement, engagement, empowerment and attitudinal change. He also indicated that the university had conducted many researches on ASM with the support of various national and international agencies, including the World Bank, European Union, British Council, National Science Foundation, USA and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa among others. Through these researches conducted some innovative technologies have been developed; notable among which is the Direct Smelting technique popularly called “Sika Bukyia” which has been approved by UNEP as one of the best mercury-free gold processing methods, Prof Kuma said.
 
Prof Kuma informed the participants that as part of the commitment of the university to assist the sector and other players in the minerals and allied industries, UMaT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) in 2013 and also with the Minerals Commission of Ghana in 2016. According to him the MoU with GNASSM among others was expected to mainly help the two parties to conduct research into innovative technologies, train GNASSM members and educate them on mineral policy issues. He added that UMaT has the requisite expertise in the minerals sector to come up with solutions to the challenges facing the industry especially in the area of research into innovative technologies and training. UMaT has developed training programmes for various categories of ASMs, the Media, members of District Mining Committees and other stakeholders. These programmes were used in 2016 to train 500 ASMs through funding from the Direct Aid Programme of the Australian Government. A 2-month training programme was also held for District Mining Committees and other stakeholders from a World Bank support through the Minerals Commission. 
 
Prof Kuma thanked the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on illegal miming and the Government of Ghana led by His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo for accepting UMaT’s views on how to tackle the challenges facing the ASM sector. He expressed gratitude to the Government for releasing GH¢500,000.00 to UMaT to start training Artisanal and Small-Scalle Miners and other stakeholders. He also indicated that UMaT was ready to partner Government to conduct further research and provide training relevant to the sector for sustainable development. He also thanked the Australian High Commission in Ghana who together with the Government of Ghana provided the funding for the validation workshop.
 
The Deputy Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Glen Askew, also indicated that his government would collaborate with Ghana in the fight against the galamsey menace and praised His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo for taking the bold initiative to bring sanity to the small scale mining sector.
 
Some Participants at the Workshop
Some Participants at the Workshop
 
In a keynote address to the participants, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, indicated that the mining sector had been a significant contributor to Ghana's economy, stating for instance that in 2016, the sector provided 17 per cent in terms of domestic taxes collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). He noted that in the area of mineral production, the sector produced over 3.7 million ounces of gold in 2016, adding: "It is significant to note that small-scale miners contributed 31 per cent of this total figure. The Minister, however, observed that while mining operations could generate employment and other benefits, they could also create negative social and environmental impacts. Mr Amewu pointed out that the small-scale mining sub-sector, especially the illegal operators, contributed in no small measure to major environmental challenges, especially the impacts on the physical environment, river siltation, degraded lands and also the health effects on both operators and the communities, from exposure to mercury and other chemicals. He disclosed that the uncontrolled nature of galamsey activities was said to have negative impacts on water bodies of neighbouring countries, especially La Cote d'Ivoire, saying: "In fact, if we do not control this, it might affect our diplomatic relations." He called on all participants to dispassionately discuss the way forward in ending the galamsey menace in the country. 
 
The Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, also appealed to all political parties to continue to dispassionately support the campaign to help the government end the scourge of galamsey once and for all.
 
 
Source: Paul Y.A. Yeboah, Assistant Registrar (University Relations)
 
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