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24.10.2005 Regional News

"Galamsey" operators relocated

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Accra, Oct. 24, GNA - About 1,000 small-scale miners have been relocated at Japa, Adjumadium and Oguakrom from Prestea as part of the Ministry of Mine's measures to control and monitor the activities of small-sclae miners, Professor Dominic Fobih Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, said on Tuesday.

Prof. Fobih, who was briefing journalists on the Ministry's policies, programmes, projects and the current state of their implementations at the weekly "Meet-The-Press" series, said other small-scale miners were expected to be moved to Oguakrom in subsequent months.

He said that efforts were underway to carry out further geological work on mining sites all over the country, which when successful would help the Ministry to replicate the resettlement of other small-scale miners in suitable areas.

Prof. Fobih said the increase in production that would be derived from these small-scale miners would be sold to the Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited (PMMC) for value-addition.

He said in 2004, production from small-scale miners totalled 46,570 ounces of gold and 778,401 carats of diamonds.

Reviewing the Ministry's legal and fiscal regimes, the Minister said it had facilitated the drafting of Minerals and Mining Bill based on international best practices and this was currently before Parliament.

He said some of the stakeholders' interests addressed in the Bill include the relocation and resettlement of mining communities as well as compensation for use of land.

"Regulations would be made to back the Bill and all concerns could be incorporated into the regulations," he said, adding that the passage of the Bill did not mean that other concerns would not be addressed. Touching on the Ministry's challenges, he said in spite of the Ministry's efforts there were still some challenges in the sub-sector including over-reliance on a few traditional minerals, environmental degradation and surface mining.

He called for concerted efforts from the Ministry, mining entities, mining communities and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to address these challenges.

Prof Fobih said as part of the Ministry's initiative to ensure further processing of Ghana's bauxite to produce alumina for smelting locally, the Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Aluminium Company of America for the development of an integrated aluminium industry in the country.

He said the Ministry through the PMMC had embarked on an aggressive development of the jewellery sector as a means of adding value to minerals.

Prof. Fobih said through the recommendation of the Ministry, the College of Jewellery had been accepted by the African Mining Partnership as one of the Institutions of Excellence for Human Resource Development for member countries.

On the Presidential Special Initiative on the development of the salt industry, Prof. Fobih said the industry was being transformed into an internationally competitive one for the production of good quality salt for both the domestic and export markets.

In furtherance of this, the Ministry has developed a strategic plan for the development of a sustainable salt industry.

"The plan involves preparation of land use plan for Ada Songhor Lagoon area to identify suitable areas for salt production and the establishment of allied industries," he said.

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