Diaspora Mining Expert Team Meets Dr. Toni Aubynn On Galamsey Regularization Strategy
A group of Ghanaian Mining Academicians & Industry Experts in the diaspora met the immediate past CEO of the Ghana Minerals Commission, Dr. Toni Aubynn and his team at their private office in Accra this week. At the Minerals Commission, Dr. Aubynn initiated most of the elements in the Multilateral Mining Implementation Project (MMIP), which is currently the roadmap to address the “galamsey” menace in Ghana.
The team comprising thirty (30) Ghanaian mining and environment professionals including, university professors, mining doctors, consultants and industry experts from USA, Canada, Australia and Norway, are currently in Ghana purposely to voluntarily contribute to the small-scale mining regularization process in the interest of the nation. With the knowledge and experience, which Dr. Aubynn has acquired over the years, the team found it prudent to present their strategy to him, document his comments and integrate his thoughts into their plan.
Dr. Aubynn is currently the president of Africa Institute for Extractive Industries (AIEI), a Think-Thank group on extractives. He was the CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines before joining Minerals Commission. He had previously worked as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Tullow Oil and Head of Corporates and Sustainability at Gold Fields Ghana. Dr. Aubynn is currently the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) Expert on Small-Scale Mining in West Africa.
Upon interactions with Toni, the team received more insights from him, which will help in the proposed regularization plan. In his view, one of the key ways of addressing the challenging illegality in the SSM sector is to reduce the level of human intervention in their regulation process. In his view, re-categorization and the employment of artificial intelligence in the SSM sector is the way to go.
The team has also met with the current CEO of Ghana Minerals Commission, key technical people at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minister of Lands & Natural Resources, Mr. John Peter Amewu. Since small-scale mining involves water, the team will also meet the Sanitation and Water Resources Minister, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda within next week.
Again, the experts will meet the leadership of some of the major mining companies in Ghana to verify “galamsey” impacts associated with their businesses. The team has been communicating with Mr. Amewu since July last year on how small-scale mining can be conducted in environmentally friendly manner to save the nation. As the government is planning to lift the ban on small-scale mining to enable the miners to work, there is the need for such a team to contribute with ideas and work together with the government and certain key stakeholders to help address the environment, health and safety risks associated with small-scale mining operations in Ghana.
The team’s goal is to ensure that the miners operate under strict monitoring and within the confines of the country’s laws. “If some countries in the western world can control small-scale mining activities to create jobs for the people and improve the local economy, why can’t we do something similar as Ghanaians?”, Solomon Owusu, one of the coordinators said.
The team will continuously meet other stakeholders in mining to understand the situation on the ground and work together with the current decision-makers to minimize potential risks. The leaders of the Ghana Small-Scale Mining Association and some of the major mining companies in Ghana. The major mining companies have demonstrated willingness to welcome the team on site. Also, the chiefs in the mining areas will be informed about the project.
The team will conduct detailed fieldwork in 8 out of the 10 “galamsey” prone regions, to enable the team to interact with the miners and understand the real problems and the procedure used for their operations. The regions include Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Central, Brong Ahafo and the three northern regions. Certain key “galamsey” areas have been identified for the field assessment.
On behalf of the Africa Institute for Extractive Industries, Dr. Aubynn expressed gratitude to the team and assured them of his unflinching support for the project. “The small-scale mining challenge is a national challenge and not a solely government challenge. It is therefore important all of us put our shoulders to the wheel”, Dr. Aubynn advised.
He underscored the benefits of SSM, including the creation of jobs and the generation of foreign exchange. According to him, Ghana will benefit from a carefully formalized small-scale mining that ensures that the environment is protected, taxes are paid and the local economy is improved. This, he believes will help minimize rural-urban migration problems in the country.