Accra, Oct. 28, GNA - Professor Dominic Kweku Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, on Friday advocated the need to make artisanal mining more productive, less polluting and socially beneficial for the government and the miners themselves.
He said artisanal diamond for example has contributed more than 80 per cent of the total diamond exports from Ghana for the past 10 years. "By legislation, artisanal mining is reserved for Ghanaian nationals, making all revenue accruing from the operations to be retained in the country," he said.
Prof Fobih, who was addressing about 75 participants attending an international meeting on "Diamond Development Initiative" which opened in Accra, mentioned some of the problems to be addressed within the diamond-mining sector to include the lack of appropriate equipment that led to low recoveries.
Some of the problems to be tackled are the lack of access to diamond-rich lands leading to haphazard operations that caused environmental degradations and exploitation by middlemen due to the absence of official support.
Prof Fobih said because the necessary legal, administrative and regulatory framework to manage the operations had been put in place, cases of smuggling of diamonds to neighbouring countries had reduced. Precious Minerals Marketing Company Limited (PMMC), the official market for the diamonds, would increase its jewellery production from 10 kgs a month to 30 kgs a month based mainly on artisianal winnings of gold and diamonds, Prof Fobih said.
He said already about 40 million dollars was being generated from the operations of PMMC annually and anticipated that with the increase in production, the revenue base would also go up.
He urged the participants to explore the possibility of investing in other minerals of the nation since Ghana was rich in bauxite, manganese, iron ore and clay aside gold and diamond.
Mr Vinod Kuriyan, an Indian Facilitators of the meeting, praised Ghana for having put in place a framework that regulated the diamond mining industry.
He said the absence of such framework had affected a lot of other poor African countries negatively.