The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has said he will not kowtow to pressure from small-scale miners to permit them to resume operations following a freeze on their activities by government.
Members of the Ashanti regional chapter of the Small Scale Miners Association, in a press conference on Thursday 18 May, gave government a three-day ultimatum to allow them to return to their mining sites or face their wrath.
The association’s chairperson, Frank Osei, said licensed small-scale miners were dissatisfied with government’s efforts in the fight against illegal mining since it had failed to differentiate those with the requisite operating licences from those engaging in the illicit activity.
But Mr Amewu, speaking to Class News on Friday 19 May, said he would not yield to the call on him to allow small-scale miners to go back to their site. He said attempts to return to the mining site would amount to disrespect for authority.
“We are all basically working for the good of Mother Ghana and even they themselves know they are supposed to mine in an environmentally sustainable manner…” he stated.
According to him, the plea by the miners to return to the site “is not going to work”.
“There is a complete moratorium on issuance of new licences and there is a ban on all small-scale mining activities in the country for a period of not less than six months and so I don’t see how they want to go beyond the directive and then go back to the site. If they do that, they will be doing that at their own risk and that will be very disrespectful to authority and which will mean that they will be taking the law in their own hands,” Mr Amewu added.
He noted that illegal mining does not pose a threat to water bodies alone but to the forest and generally leads to the degradation of the environment.
Mr Amewu clarified that even if a small-scale miner has a licence from the relevant authorities and “you are found working in the river body or you are found mining without reclamation and you are [also] found in the application of unacceptable chemicals in your mining practices, all these, although you have a licence, we classify them as illicit mining – they are also part of galamsey activities”.