Twenty-six small scale miners from Ghana are undertaking a two-week study tour of China to enhance the efficiency and sustaina-bility of their operations.
The tour, under the sponsorship of the government, is designed principally at replacing the rudimentary technologies used by small scale miners through the adoption of modern and cost effective mechanised and semi-mechanised technologies.
It is also geared towards instilling the requisite organisational and managerial skills in small scale operators as well as mitigate the dire environmental and health hazards associated with small scale mining operations in Ghana.
Madam Esther Obeng Dappah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, made the disclosure during an encounter with the press at her ministry.
She said while in China, the delegation will visit dimension stone, limestone and the precious stones polishing mines and factories in China.
The team will also attend a series of seminars to apprise themselves with the structure and modus operandi of the Chinese small scale mining sector, the regulatory framework and other relevant aspects of the mining insdustry.
According to the minister, the tour to China, a country with one of the most technologically advanced small scale mining industries in the world, was in fulfilment of a Cabinet directive.
Madam Dappah stressed that the initiative “demonstrates the government's committment to boost the small scale mining sub-sector as a vehicle for employment generation and poverty reduction”.
She said: “The beneficiaries will learn how well legalised small scale mining could be conducted in sustainable manner and acquaint the miners with advantages that could be derived from organising small and artisanal miners into mining co-operatives and associations”'
Madam Dappah advised the delegates to endeavour to learn from the exposure in a way that would enhance their operations, “comport themselves as good ambassadors of Ghana and do not behave in any way that would bring the good name of Ghana into disrepute”, the Minister added..
The minister revealed that the exposure derived from the tour is expected to usher in a new wind of change in Ghana's small scale mining industry to serve as a catalyst for the rapid regularisation of the sector in Ghana.
“The tour will help reduce the incidence of illegal mining activities which would also lead to a considerable reduction in the rampant conflicts and tensions between major mining companies and the small scale operators in many mining communities,” she said.
Dilating on the immense potential of the industry which employs over 500,000 Ghanaians, the minister pointed out that the “sector accounts for 10.43 per cent of total gold production, which generates about US$120 million and contributes 92 per cent of total diamond production amounting to US$28 million”.
Touching on other interventions adopted by the government to revamp the small scale mining sub-sector in Ghana, Madam Dappah disclosed that the government had also disbursed financial assistance from the Mineral Development Fund to over 11,000 small scale gold producers over the past three years.
”The government has also offered a total of 480,000 acres of land with a potential for gold mineralization throughout the country for small-scale mining,” she said.
The areas offered are located in 44 districts including Bibiani, Sunyani, Berekum, Ahafo Ano, Sekyere East, Ejisu-Juaben, Atwima, Juabeso, Upper Den-kyira, Assin, East Akim, Aowin-Suama, Fanteakwa, Amansie-West, Wassa Amenfi, Wassa West, Birim North, Twifo Herman-Lower Denkyira, Nzima East, Gomoa, Juabeso-Bia, New Abirem, Kwabibrem, Suhum Kraboa Coaltar, Bolgatanga and Central Gonja.