May 15, 2013 at 4:44am
President Mahama charges Inter-Ministerial Task Force To Tackle Illegal Mining In Ghana
President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday inaugurated an Inter-Ministerial Task Force to flush out Ghanaians and foreigners engaged in illegal mining (galamsey) in the country.

The five-member task force will work in a coordinated manner with the military and the police to arrest and prosecute Ghanaians and foreigners engaged in illegal mining.

The Inter-Ministerial Task Force on illegal small-scale mining is chaired by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, with the Minister of the Interior, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, the Minister of Defence, Mr Mark Woyongo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Tetteh, and the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, as members.

The task force is mandated to ensure that laws on small-scale mining are fully enforced and seize all equipment used by those who fail to comply with new directives on obtaining or renewing their licences.

It is also empowered to arrest and prosecute anybody, both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, involved in small-scale illegal mining and deport all non-Ghanaians involved in small-scale mining.

In recent times illegal mining has become a worrying issue in the country, resulting in the killing of miners, murders, degradation of the environment and the pollution of water bodies.

The involvement of foreigners in the mining sector, coupled with the use of heavy equipment, has worsened the situation.

Inaugurating the task force at the Flagstaff House, President Mahama said illegal mining posed a threat to the nation “in terms of forests being degraded, farmlands being destroyed, water bodies being polluted and the resultant health implications for the people”.



[Main Auditorium of the Flagstaff House- Tuesday, May 14, 2013]

I welcome you, honourable Ministers of State to this short but important event.

As you know, I have had occasion to speak publicly about the dangers ‘galamsey’ is posing to our nation in terms of forests being degraded, farmlands being destroyed, water bodies being polluted and the resultant health implications for the people.

In the very recent past, we have all witnessed the devastation galamsey has caused to some of our water bodies and its effect on the production and supply of water to various communities.

There has also been casualties and loss of lives arising from conflicts in some areas where illegal small-scale mining is taking place. Other negative consequences of this activity include the lawless and criminal behavior exhibited by Ghanaians and some non-Ghanaians involved in the illegal act.

We do clearly have a problem, and as government we have been working to prevent it from generating into a crisis. But it is clear that we need to strengthen, broaden and coordinate better our efforts in tackling the challenge of illegal mining.

In constituting this Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on illegal small-scale mining, I am sending a clear signal to the offending individuals and groupings that government will not allow their activities to cause conflict, dislocation, environmental degradation, and unemployment, when in fact; the sector should benefit our communities and help develop Ghana.

The Taskforce will be chaired by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, and will include the Ministers for the Interior, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration as well as Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.

Your task is simple and straightforward.

To actualize my determination to bring sanity into the mining sector, including my pledge to ensure that the small-scale mining sector is reserved for Ghanaians.

You are been put together to work and coordinate the various efforts because the activities of illegal small-scale miners breed consequences that are multifaceted, and largely fall under your sector ministries.
Remember that Government is not against small-scale mining, what we want is for those who are engaged in small-scale mining to follow the required procedures that govern mining in our country.
Your mandate is to ensure that our laws in the Small Scale mining sub sector are fully enforced.

 Seize all equipment used by those who fail to comply with the new directives of obtaining licenses or renewing their licenses.
 Arrest and prosecute anybody, both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, involved in small-scale illegal mining.
 Deport all non-Ghanaians involved in small-scale mining.
 Revoke the licenses of Ghanaians who have sub-leased their concessions to non-Ghanaians against the rules.
 Revoke the licenses of Ghanaians who have engaged the services of non-Ghanaian miners in the small-scale mining sector in ways that are contrary to the rules.
 Hold MMDCEs and their respective DISECs accountable for any illegal mining activity in their areas of jurisdiction.

Let me be clear that, while I am very hopeful that the work of this Taskforce will produce the desired results, my Government is exploring a holistic approach that would tackle both the immediate and remote factors promoting illegal mining in our nation.

There is no doubt that the introduction of heavy equipment has compounded the destructive nature of small-scale mining.

While traditional mining with pick, shovel and panning may have caused harm, such harm was on a small scale.

The question then is, how do these heavy equipment get to the sites; who imports them, who sells them, and who transports them to the various sites. It is my expectation that the police will confiscate or disable any mechanical equipment: bulldozers, diggers, conveyor belts and water pressure systems not licensed by the appropriate authorities.

There is no doubt that small-scale mining can help alleviate poverty and can create jobs. With this in mind it should be possible to support small-scale sustainable mining.

To ensure that the people truly benefit from the wealth in their lands, we will promote licensed village cooperatives ahead of companies. A percentage of the purchase price would be paid to the cooperative at monthly intervals, for infrastructure improvements. This would provide regular income and will be in line with our long-standing belief that as a responsible government, we are also responsible for the common welfare of the people.

Eventually, however, such an arrangement will eliminate the use of heavy equipment and its deployment in the small-scale mining sector.

Another area we are exploring in terms of dealing a deadly blow to illegal mining and its attendant negative effects is in the area of the output; purchase and export.

Currently, the Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited and other privately owned companies, which have been licensed by the Minerals Commission to export independently, do this.

Most of these independent companies are owned by Non-Ghanaians.

The problem here is that gold exported by some of the independent exporters are froth with all kinds of negative practices, sometimes the source of their gold can not be authenticated, as opposed to exports done through the PMMC Limited.

Comparatively, exports through PMMC Limited can be tracked, monitored and the proceeds traced through banks. Independent exporters cannot say this for exports.

The truth is that the operations of independent exporters are shrouded in secrecy and in most cases the proceeds are not brought through the banking system. Not only does this result in the nation losing much needed revenue but it is a system used for money laundering and the promotion of capital flight.

I strongly urge you to co-opt all the necessary expertise that would assist it deliver on a coordinated Action Plan for dealing with a small but multi-faceted problem.

I expect you to report on progress on a monthly basis to the Chief of Staff.

Your mandate starts now.

Thank You.
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