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03.08.2006 General News

Miners appeal against ban on use of excavators

By GNA
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Akwatia (E/R), Aug. 3, GNA - Small-scale miners working under the "tributory" system of the Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited (GCDL) have appealed to the company and the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines to rescind their decision to ban them from using excavators in their mining operations.

The small-scale miners, known as tributors, said without the use of earth-moving equipment, it would be almost impossible to undertake their operations since it involved digging deep to reach the diamond-bearing gravels.

At a meeting at Akwatia on Monday, the miners said they acquired their mining concessions from the GCD at great cost and wondered how the company, knowing the problem with mining in the area, especially being close to the Birim River, should ban them from using excavators. At the meeting the Akwatiahene, Osabarima Kofi Boateng, III and Osabarima Atwere Bediako II, Akyem Wenchihene supported the claims of tributors.

The two chiefs asked that the banning order be revoked since it was not in the interest of the small-scale mining operations in the area, which was offering employment to a large number of people. They held that since GCD itself granted them the concession, knowing well that only excavators could be used to profitably mine the areas and having allowed the machines to operate for sometime, they should not now turn round to ban their use.

Mr John Quarcoo, Chief Geologist of the GCD, explained that the rationale behind the ban on excavator use was that it scared away prospective investors in the mine area, which had been on divestiture for over 10 years.

But the tributors rejected the contention that their operations could scare away investors, saying any investor taking over the running of the mine should be made to understand that those areas being mined by the tributors were legitimately acquired by them before they came in.

Mr George Asante, the Managing Director of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMME), advised diamond dealers to avoid dealing in foreign ones.

He warned that under the Kimberly Process, a total ban had been placed on the sale of diamonds from conflict areas, popularly called "blood diamond".

Mr Asante told them to expose those who dealt in such diamonds, since the industry in Ghana could be jeopardized if local diamonds were mixed with those smuggled into the country.

Mr Joe Mensah, Technical Services Superintendent of GCD, warned the miners against the diversion of streams without prior approval of the ministry and advised that such applications should be channeled through GCD.

The Senior Mines Inspector, Mr Obiri Yeboah Twumasi, advised the tributors to form an association, which would champion their cause and help resolve problems such as conflicts between them and labourers working under them.

The Akyem Oda Divisional Police Commander, Chief Superintendent of Police Ben Atandana, warned against acts of lawlessness in the mining areas, saying those who would take the law into their own hands would be made to face the full rigours of the law.

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