Lawyer Nana Kwaku Ayisi, the CEO of the Mineral Commission, recently highlighted the crucial role played by Ghana’s small-scale mining sector in supporting livelihoods nationwide. Ayisi discussed the growth and impact of lawful small-scale mining operations, which originated in 1989 and initially focused on the Ashanti, Eastern, Central, and Western regions. Over the past 34 years, mining activities have expanded to cover around 12 to 13 regions, leaving only Oti, Greater Accra, and Volta untouched.
Ayisi expressed confidence that mining operations would soon extend to the remaining regions as ongoing surveys progress. The CEO specifically drew attention to significant developments in Oti, calling for a comprehensive understanding of the situation in that area.
Highlighting the sector’s significance, Ayisi stated that small-scale mining not only offers employment opportunities but also supports the livelihoods of nearly 10% of Ghana’s population, equating to approximately 3 million individuals. The impact extends to various towns and businesses directly and indirectly linked to the sector. Communities such as Deasu, Dunkuwa, Takwa, Persia, and others thrive due to the economic circulation generated by mining. Central business districts like Diaso, Tako, and Prestia also heavily depend on mining-related income as local shops cater to the needs of miners and their families.
Ayisi further emphasized the deep connection between mining and the agricultural sector. Miners play a vital role in the local economy by purchasing agricultural produce, often on credit, from farmers. Additionally, women outnumber men in their participation in the small-scale mining industry.
The CEO urged policymakers and governments to consider the interdependence between small-scale mining and the overall economy, cautioning against viewing it solely as a political matter. Ayisi stressed that strategies to address the challenges posed by illegal mining should take into account the livelihoods dependent on mining.
While acknowledging concerns about the environmental impact, particularly on water bodies, Ayisi argued for a comprehensive understanding of the sociological and economic factors at play. The mere imposition of bans without addressing the complex dynamics and inadequate allocation of funds for appropriate equipment over the past 34 years would yield ineffective solutions.
Ayisi called upon Ghanaians, politicians, policymakers, and the media to recognize the multifaceted nature of small-scale mining. The CEO underscored the importance of this understanding in designing effective programs and policies to combat illegal mining while safeguarding livelihoods.