Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reform in small-scale mining in the offing

By Edmund Smith-Asante
Dr Toni Aubynn (3rd- left),CEO of the Ghana Minerals Commission addressing the press on the measures to reform artisanal and small-scale mining in Accra.

The Minerals Commission has launched an initiative to train small-scale miners to run and operate their businesses along efficient management and company lines.

It seeks to create a positive image of the artisanal mining sector from the current state where it is mostly seen as an insecure, dangerous and poverty-stricken sector.

Under the initiative, a Learning and Leadership Group made up of businesses and community leaders had been formed to share ideas with small-scale miners on how best to conduct their mining along business lines.

The group has already developed an agenda for action that includes demonstrating the “business case” for responsible artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM), improving practices within the small-scale mining sector, and building support across Ghanaian institutions for the sector as a force for positive growth and equity in the country.

The reform started in January with an “action dialogue” at Tarkwa, organised by Ghanaian NGO, Friends of the Nation, with the support of UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development’s (IIED) artisanal mining sector dialogues’ programme and is the first of such dialogues to be held in Africa.

Prior to the dialogue, however, visits were conducted to artisanal and small-scale mine sites and followed up with two days of workshop discussions with experts from the Ghana Minerals Commission, government departments, artisanal and small-scale miners, large mining companies, academia and non governmental organisations.

Major shift
A media briefing on the initiative, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Minerals Commission, Dr Toni Aubynn, said “What we need is a major shift. A shift from a small-scale mining sector driven by poverty and a lack of option, to small-scale mining operations that are run like efficient businesses, with adequate access to finance.

He lauded the formation of the learning group that would act as a board “to execute the transition from the negative side of artisanal or small-scale mining to the positive side,” adding that “this complements the work of the Minerals Commission.

Role of ASM
A small-scale miner and the Coordinator of Women in Mining at the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM), Ms Amina Tahiru, said “Miners must play a leading part in this sector reform. We have to commit ourselves to responsible mining practices so we can have the respect of the Ghanaian society.”

She added that while many small-scale miners were already operating responsibly, the association nonetheless, wanted many more to do so.

The leader of the ASM Africa Network (ASMAN), Nii Adjetey Kofi-Mensah, for his part said civil society organisations such as ASMAN aimed at supporting the development of an environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable small-scale mining sector that could be a tool for poverty reduction in resource-rich rural communities.”

This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on March 22, 2016

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