Asantehene Otumfuo Osei II has pledged to deal with any of his sub-chiefs caught engaging in illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.
The overlord of the Asante Kingdom is not relenting in his efforts to support the government’s renewed fight against the menace by ensuring that traditional leaders are not complicit.
“On my part, I have already warned my chiefs and elders against participation in such illegalities, and I will not hesitate to strongly sanction such infraction,” he stated.
“As a chief, if you give out your lands to be used for galamsey, then what kind of chief are you?” he questioned.
He indicated that he had already received reports of such activities in Amansie and Fomena, which were currently under probe.
The Asantehene presented a keynote address to commence the Ashanti Regional Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining in Kumasi. Speaking at KNUST’s Great Hall on Wednesday, May 12, he pointed out that 30 per cent of the audience at the dialogue can identify people involved in galamsey.
“If we don’t speak the truth, we will keep deceiving ourselves with countless dialogues to no avail”.
He said small-scale mining was legal and contributed about 40 per cent of Ghana’s gold production. However, it is fraught with many challenges with a thin line between illegal mining.
The dialogue follows the maiden edition held in Accra.
The Asantehene also called on the government to involve traditional authorities because they are custodians of communal lands.
Furthermore, he called for a change in the issuance of mining licenses by state authorities without involving chiefs from areas where the activities would take place.
“It will be most prudent when traditional authorities are consulted before licences are given out,” he stated, describing the current procedure as a “mockery”.
He emphasized that illegal mining was “unsustainable, unacceptable and must be stopped” and stressed that Asanteman is opposed to anything that destroys the environment and ecosystem, which puts a threat on the survival of communities.
Also, he urged the government to integrate the sector with the rest of the economy to catapult Ghana into accelerated development through opening avenues to add value to minerals extracted, creating feedstock for the agricultural, industrial and services sectors.
He upheld that small-scale mining is conducted properly and responsibly within the legal framework designed to enhance the needs of mining communities.
Additionally, he called for the involvement of legal small-scale miners to provide solutions to the current problems pointing out that the small scale miners “know the illegal miners”. Hence, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources should consult the Minerals Commission for the list of small-scale miners.
“All others are illegal miners, and the security agencies should be sent to flush them out,” he added.
He called for bold and honest leadership devoid of greed and dishonesty in tackling the menace. The dialogue provides the opportunity to make inputs in the national discourse on the regularization of the small-scale mining sector.
Authorities intend to achieve that by coordinating diverse views to help develop appropriate policy options with the overarching good of improving the operation, regulation, management and governance of the sector.
Artisanal and small-scale mining for gold contributes at least a third of the total gold produced in Ghana. The sector provides jobs, creates opportunities to support rural livelihoods, entrepreneurship and provide sources of development.
Meanwhile, small-scale miners have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to end the destruction of their properties, or else they would respond with a demonstration.
“We are giving the government 7 days to address these concerns. If nothing is heard from them, we will embark on a three-day nationwide demonstration,” the Small-Scale Miners Association said.