Angry reactions have trailed the recent operations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the small-scale mining license acquisition.
Concerned Constituency Chairmen of governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) from the Constituencies within mining communities, on Sunday described as thievery the process through which new applicants get their licenses.
The statement, signed by the Convener of the group, indicated that called on the government to consolidate all the agencies with a special mandate of authorizing processes leading to the issuance of mining licenses under Lands Commission.
Read below the statement……..
For immediate release. 04/05/2020
PRESS STATEMENT BY CONCERN CONSTITUENCY CHAIRMEN OF NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY ON HOW EPA IS STALLING GOVERNMENT EFFORTS IN SANITIZING THE MINING INDUSTRY
We, Concern Constituency Chairmen of New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the One Hundred and Nineteen Constituencies in the mining areas condemned vehemently the obstruction of government efforts to cleanse the menace of small-scale mining by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 2017, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo suspended mining activities and placed a ban on all Small-Scale Mining activities in Ghana in a bid to sanitize the industry. The President further declared war to fight against the massive degradation of lands and rivers by galamsey activities and to protect what he terms the livelihood of the citizens whom he has sworn an oath to serve.
In pursuit of his desire to end the menace, the President went ahead to put his political career on the line with the aim to win the battle against the canker.
In furtherance, the NPP government has engineered press massive reforms and invited interested Ghanaians to apply for small scale mining licenses and have their activities properly regulated.
Sadly, months after the lifting of the ban on small scale mining, you will be shocked when you take a tour across some mining communities and rivers such as the Ankobra, Densu, Offin. You will regret to note that despite the many efforts put in place to ensure safe and responsible mining guided by regulations, most of the rivers are still polluted as a result of massive illegal activities all over the country.
This release is one of the series of such releases to be unleashed into the public domain to help unravel the myth surrounding the non-compliance of the guidelines set out in the roadmap necessitating the lifting of the ban on Small Scale Mining.
For us as Constituency Chairmen, we consider it as a duty to ensure that our government succeeds. So, we are not leaving any stone unturned.
Here, we are reporting to the Ghanaian people on how small-scale miners are being frustrated and how the country is being ripped off taxes and revenue for the state, “Nananom” and the regulators after all attempts to reach government proved futile.
It is important however, that we explain the difference between small scale mining and galamsey so you better understand the issues. Small Scale Mining is exclusively for Ghanaians who had been issued with a license and operating permits to mine under constant monitoring for and evaluation for safety and environmentally friendly manner. Small scale mining, however, is exclusively for the purpose of job creation since large scale mining is capital intensive and most Ghanaians are unable to fund and sustain large scale mining operations. On the other hand, “galamsey” which emanated from the phrase “gather them and sell” is synonymous with the picking of diamonds from the ground to sell and now being used to imply “illegal gold mining”. So, whilst small scale miners are holders of the requisite license issued by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources on behalf of the President, galamsey simply means “illegal mining”.
In our inquiries to establish why galamsey is pervading, we established that in compliance with the directives to go through the processes to acquire the requisite documentation, there has been an influx of small-scale mining applications at the Minerals Commission and duly approved by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource.
At the other hand, the Small Scale Miners Association and some individual miners revealed to us that one of the key processes for obtaining an operating permit is to have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit before one could be issued with an operating permit by the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission which is the final stage of the processes before one is allowed to mine and this is where the problem exists.
As a result, most small-scale miners have been turned away by the EPA requesting them to produce clearance from the Inter-Ministerial Committee of Illegal Mining (IMCIM). However, EPA gives permits for other minerals mining apart from small-scale gold miners. Our checks also revealed that small scale miners who are politically connected somehow have been issued with their EPA permits without any form of clearance from the IMCIM, a clear case of discrimination.
Our investigations further revealed that this directive comes from the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Hon. Professor Frimpong Boateng who doubles as the chair for the IMCIM.
Shockingly, the IMCIM demands between GH 3,000.00 to GH 4,000.00 from miners before such clearance is given even though there is no legal basis. As a result, small scale gold miners who have licenses without EPA permit and an operating permit out of frustrations, proceed to mine illegally. What this means is that, these miners have not paid the charges for the EPA and operating permit thereby causing financial loss to the EPA and the Minerals Commission. What is even more worrying is that, these miners are mining the gold and not paying taxes and mineral royalties’ due government since their operations are illegal. In our interrogation with some miners, they expressed their willingness to pay the EPA and operating permit charges if the EPA would allow them to do so.
On the other hand, the small-scale operators insist they have tried to no success to secure operating licenses to allow them to operate but the processes are too cumbersome and frustrating. They said in most cases while awaiting their applications to go through the cumbersome license application processes, others would be “chopping” your proposed land and by the time your license is ready, there’s virtually nothing therein for them to mine thereby wasting their resources. Asked how long it takes to mine an area, the galamseyers further reveal that depending on the equipment and the size of land, they could finish mining a piece of land within a short possible time and relocate to another site.
As people with much interest in how the government performs in all sectors, we wonder why Professor Frimpong Boateng has put his personal interest in the mining industry over and above that of the president and Ghanaians?
We suggest the President makes it possible for the Stool Lands, Land Valuation, the EPA and the agency responsible for the issuing of stamp duty on the agreements operates within the Minerals Commission premise to eliminate thievery and facilitate the application processes as the current situation frustrates government efforts.
We have taken this part because of the failure to write the wrongs associated with small-scale mining, the repercussion would weigh those of charged with responsibilities to ensure the party succeeds.
This issue of small-scale mining if not address with tact may cause us the 2020 election. That is why we have elected ourselves to push for the right thing.
Chairman of Concern Constituency Chairmen of NPP