A group calling itself Concerned Small Scale Miners Union of Ghana (CSSMUG) is threatening to sue the government if it does not provide a concrete roadmap towards the lifting the ban on small-scale mining in two weeks.
The miners have threatened demonstrations and a lawsuit if the government fails to give in to their demands in the next two weeks.
At a press conference today addressed by the President, Michael Kwadwo Peprah, the group said the government has had enough time to save the mining industry and has failed.
He said: “more than one year after the ban which was destined for only six months, the government of President Akufo Addo is yet to convince us that it has any meaningful approach to dealing with the ills of the sector which necessitated this moratorium.”
“The fight against illegal mining which appeared an easy one to the government from the onset has beyond reasonable doubt, proven to be a daunting one, putting to shame the very military approach adopted as its antidote.”
The group lamented government’s inability to launch it’s ” ‘messiah policy,’ the Multi-Sectoral Mining Integration Project, (MMIP) without explanation.”
Kwadwo Peprah added that “one year is enough for any serious administrator to put pragmatic, concrete measures in place to salvage an industry that employs a teeming number of young people; the government would not be struggling with graduate and youth unemployment if Small Scale Mining had been given the needed streamlining.”
He stated that group “would not hesitate to speak the only language government understands, and we forewarn that, this time, no amount of pressure, humiliation, and intimidation can cower us from venting out our frustrations.”
Below is the full statement:
CONCERNED SMALL SCALE MINERS UNION OF GHANA (CSSMUG)
PRESS STATEMENT ON PERTINENT ISSUES, ONE YEAR AFTER THE BAN ON SMALL SCALE MINING IN GHANA
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, compatriots and fellow Ghanaians, we thank you for enduring us and our troubles over the past one year.
Our pain, agony, and loss are however far from over as long as government remains adamant to lifting the ban on our business.
More than one year after the ban which was destined for only six months, the government of President Akufo Addo is yet to convince us that it has any meaningful approach to dealing with the ills of the sector which necessitated this moratorium.
The fight against illegal mining which appeared an easy one to the government from the onset has beyond reasonable doubt, proven to be a daunting one, putting to shame the very military approach adopted as its antidote.
In view of this, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that, the government has run out of ideas in dealing with the problem and that it has no justification to continue to keep legitimate licensed Ghanaian small-scale miners confined to our homes.
We, the Concerned Small Scale Miners Union of Ghana (CSSMUG) wishes to remind the government that, military interventions in fighting illegal mining has proven to be ineffective ever since the menace became a matter of national concern.
A government initiative codenamed ‘Operation Dragnet’ that was deployed in 1979-1984 by the then PNDC regime to chase out AGC gold pilferers in Obuasi and other persons who were deemed to be either illegally mining or possessing gold failed, though a lot of Ghanaians who were arrested in that operation died in jail.
Even after Small Scale Mining was made a legal sole preserve for Ghanaians in 1989 by the PNDC administration led by former President Rawlings, Presidents J.A. Kuffour, and John Mahama who both found a reason to use the military to go after illegal miners also failed.
We, therefore, find it baffling that this government would fail to revise its tactics more than six months that the Operation Vanguard has demonstrated gross failure.
Even top officials of the government, including the Member of Parliament for the Assin Central Constituency, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong has found cause to call for the disembarking of the Operation Vanguard due to its failure and the extortion of huge sums of money from illegal miners; the very miscreants it has been deployed to flush out.
It is also unfathomable that government would withhold the launch of its ‘messiah policy’, the Multi-Sectoral Mining Integration Project, (MMIP) without explanation.
Small-scale miners were of the view that, the MMIP would bring closure to the myriad of issues bedeviling our sub-sector and among other remedies find alternative livelihood options for illegal miners, but the contrary, ladies, and gentlemen are what we witness today. A complete ‘no show’.
We wish to caution government that its intention to introduce what it calls “medium scale category of mining operations in Ghana” as stated in the Project Appraisal and Implementation Document (PAID) for the MMIP (point 4.3.2e) would not be countenanced for the simple reason that, it would open the floodgates for foreigners to engage in the very acts for which we have been asked to lay down our tools and equipment.
The CSSMUG also demands of government to explain to Ghanaians why it has dished out contracts to some foreign companies to embark on reclamation activities in some of the most virgin of forest reserves in the country, whilst pits and degraded land left by illegal miners are stilled abandoned in most of the mining communities, posing serious threats to lives and property in those areas.
What is even bizarre is the fact that, some of these companies are briskly mining gold in those virgin forests under heavy military protection without access to even the owners of the lands.
This had prompted the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie writing to suspend the contracts of 17 of the contractors when evidence emerged of their hardcore galamsey activities. (Please find the letter attached).
It begs the question as to why the government would embark on such a major project without the knowledge of Ghanaians if it does not expressly benefit from their activities.
If the government is so minded to reclaim degraded lands, persons who dug and left those pits uncovered could easily be identified and surcharged for all the costs, to save the public purse.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we hereby remind to government that, one year is enough for any serious administrator to put pragmatic, concrete measures in place to salvage an industry that employs a teeming number of young people; government would not be struggling with graduate and youth unemployment if Small Scale Mining had been given the needed streamlining.
We hereby demand to know from the government within the next two weeks, a deliberate, immediate and concrete roadmap toward lifting the ban or brace up for a series of demonstrations, confrontations and a consequent lawsuit.
We have remained law-abiding citizens and committed to the fight against illegal mining over the past one year, but government by its actions and inactions is taking us for a ride.
We cannot endure any longer; wasteful moments idling away precious man hours whilst our equipment gather dust and rust, our concession taken over by reptiles and galamseyers, our bank accounts hitting red, our members going impotent and bankrupt, our homes breaking and we becoming objects of public ridicule and shame even as our licenses remain valid.
We would not hesitate to speak the only language government understands, and we forewarn that, this time, no amount of pressure, humiliation, and intimidation can cower us from venting out our frustrations on the streets to make a case for our legally chosen business like it happened on the 12 September 2017.
If it is going to take the very last drops of our blood, our heads or skins, we would not be moved nor stopped until the government does the honourable thing.
Let it be understood that we do not demand of the government anything that is unlawful, but our natural, unalienable rights to work, to survive and to live.
Long live Ghana
Long live small-scale mining.