The Small-Scale Miners Association has registered their displeasure about the destruction of excavators and other mining equipment in the government’s quest to fight illegal small-scale mining (galamsey) in the country.
Although the Association is not against efforts to stop illegal small-scale mining, it does not believe that burning excavators and other mining equipment is a solution that can be sustained.
Speaking on Citi FM’s Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday, General Secretary of the association, Godwin Armah, indicated that the current law only mandates state institutions to seize such equipment and not destroy them as being done by the military task force deployed to fight galamsey.
His comment was in opposition to President Akufo-Addo’s declaration that his government approves of the burning and destruction of equipment used in illegal mining operations.
“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing exercise of ridding our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and in some cases harsh. I strongly disagree, and I will advise those who take a contrary view to go to court to vindicate their position if they so wish. That is what the rule of law is all about,” President Akufo-Addo said at a recent public gathering on the matter.
However, Godwin Armah challenged the President’s position on the matter, saying the destroyed equipment could be put to other use such as reclaiming lands destroyed by galamsey.
“The law makes it clear that it [equipment] should be sent to the police station and after 60 days the Minister can dispose it to the relevant authorities or government agencies that need it. You look at the position of the government now is to burn any equipment that is working on river bodies or in forest reserves. As an association, looking at the whole issue, when you use the military approach and burn excavators, what next? What do we do to reclaim those pits to rejuvenate the land? From day one we have said that burning of the equipment is not something that we support. This same equipment that was used to destroy should be the same equipment that should be used to reclaim the land. Reclaiming the land is very expensive,” he said.
He further suggested that the task force should include officials of the Minerals Commission to help in assessing suspected illegal small-scale mining companies to be sure of any possible illegal operations.
He explained that two legal small-scale mining companies have had their equipment wrongfully destroyed because members of the task force who are not technocrats but just military officers assumed that their operations were illegal.
“When you get to the field, and you are not an expert, you won’t understand the process, and I don’t blame the military man… Minerals commission should be part of the process,” he said.