By:brightwebtv.com nana Asare Barimah
The Small Scale Miners Association of Ghana has lauded the government for the continuous training and education given them on sound mining practices but insists the government can do better.
According to Director of Finance for the Association, Francis Opoku, the government must focus more on investing in small scale mining as much as they do for the large scale mining operations.
When asked if their activities had been halted, he responded in the negative. “We still mine. The President says we should keep mining. Our fore fathers mined, we are mining and our kids will also mine. But we now undergo training from the government.
The training is important for our work to grow and to improve upon our practices. For that, we applaud the government but it should go beyond that”, he stated.
He believes the training will amount to nothing if the government refuses to invest in the small scale mining sector. On his account the investment and wholesome involvement of government in their activities is the only sure way to benefit from these training exercises.
Francis made this known in an interview with Samuel Eshun on the Happy Morning Show aired on e.TV Ghana and Happy 98.9 FM.
“After the training, government should have invested or given people the opportunity to invest in the mining sector. That way, demonstration sites can be set up to show our members the proper way of mining”.
Citing neighbouring Burkina Faso and Tanzania as models for Ghana, he indicated their governments are highly involved in the actual operations of small scale miners.
To him, the Ghanaian government ends its work after training and putting in place policies to regulate their work. “Mostly, it seems the government tries to distance itself from anything that has to do with small scale mining. It gives tax holidays to large scale mining firms but small scale miners do not enjoy such treatment”, he lamented.
According to a research conducted by Gavin H. Hilson on the topic Gold Mining as Subsistence: Ghana’s Small-Scale Miners Left Behind in March, 2003, the most serious problem imposed by heightened large-scale mine investment and a problem that continues to be ignored by the Ghanaian government is the mass dislocation of indigenous small-scale miners and galamsey—a label given to the resident “illegal” small-scale mining segment.
The government completely legalised small-scale gold mining in 1989 in a reactionary move after realising that as much as 20 percent of gold output was being lost through unmonitored small-scale mining channels. But the operating climate has been as unattractive for small-scale miners as it has been favourable for large-scale miners.
The efforts taken to draft and implement laws and registration procedures for small mines have been exceedingly cavalier. Problems begin with the procedures required to secure a license to mine on a small scale, and the inherent delays associated with the application paperwork and countless evaluations pose a considerable problem to the subsistence small-scale miner.