The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Ellembelle in Western Region, Kwasi Bonzoh, has suggested the use of bottom-up approach in dealing decisively with the growing phenomenon of illegal mining in the country.
He says since the deployment of security task forces across the country to cause the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of the crime, continues to fail, a new approach that must involve local mining communities must be adopted and applied consciously as the ultimate panacea to end the canker
He believes the approach when applied properly, could assist the government to rewrite the narrative of confronting the canker of illegal mining with an ambitious plan necessary to either eradicate it or neutralize the operators and their operations into main stream large scale and small scale mining activities.
“In the course of this fight, we have come to that stack realization that the solution to this phenomenon of galamsey, should be a bottom up approach” he said in an interview with Metrotvonline.com
Speaking exclusively to Metro TV Online, he said “You start in the communities, because, it is becoming a reality that the communities are beginning to accept illegal mining and gallamsey, because of the economic benefits that are associated with it”
According to the DCE, operators of illegal mining do not necessarily care, and think about the future, or the environment, except what they can obtain on the ground or in the field to survive
“Not withstanding the negative impact it has on our environment, on our water bodies, they do not care”
Explaining the bitter lessons learnt over the years in the fight against illegal mining, he said, the mindset, usually about the miners is really not about the environment but the licensing regime
“We have also come to know that the difference between illegal mining and legal mining, is the license issued by Minerals Commission.
In our district, we have come to know that the small scale miners, those who have all the requisite documentation, they mine using responsible methods.
“They don’t pollute water bodies, they don’t degrade the environment, they are committed to reclamation, they are committed to abiding by the rules and regulations, where you don’t have to mine, hundred meters close to any river body, by then, the illegal miners, because they are already undertaken an illegal activity, anytime we go, we are chasing and arresting them, they resort to all these irresponsible mining methods that goes a long way to pollute our river bodies”
Currently, he said the issue has been troubling the Assembly “Is of major concern to our district, because Ellembelle is a key mining district in this country.
We have large mining companies operating here, and also small scale mining. Now, being a mining district, we have had to confront the issue of illegal mining otherwise known as galamsey.
In the past, we have held series of anti-gallamsey operations. Personally I have led security agencies to conduct over twenty (20) illegal mining operations, where we have arrested quite a number of people, put them before court, they are on trial”
Continuing, he said “we, together with the major mining company here, known as Adamus Resources Limited, have decided to embark on government policy of community mining.
Land has been made available, and currently, there are structures that are being put in place, so that illegal miners can be converted into legal small scale mining in which case the policy allows the local people to participate in the mining industry by engaging in sustainable small scale mining, that would not destroy our water bodies.
However, he noted “It comes with a caveat that all operators should undertake concurrent reclamation as and when they mine. They have to reclaim the land. As for going near river bodies, is a no no, so together with Adamus Resources Limited, and other stakeholders, we are currently in the process of putting in place a very sustainable community mining scheme.”
“We believe that, that would help us tackle the problem of illegal mining in the sense that, it would provide an avenue for the youth, who, otherwise, would have been involved in illegal mining to be able to do small scale sustainable mining under the supervision by EPA, Minerals Commission, Water Resources Commission, and we believe that once all these regulations are taken place, the issue of illegal mining would be a thing of the past in our district,” he concluded.
By: Zambaga Rufai Saminu | Metrotvonline.com | Ghana