Mining in Ghana Minerals Commission steps up effort to regularise activities of illegal miners

Chief Executive of the commission, Torny Aubyn, said activities of galamseyers poses a major challenge “to formal mining.”

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The Ghana Minerals Commission has taken steps to streamline activities of illegal miners, also known as galamseyers.

Chief Executive of the commission, Torny Aubyn, said activities of galamseyers poses a major challenge “to formal mining.”

As a country we are facing a major challenge of informal mining,” Aubyn said on Joy FM.

“The method being used, you see a lot of illegal mining going on, you will see it impact directly on us. This is very worrying,” he said.

In recent times, galamsey operators have encroached mining concessions of AngloGold Ashanti (AGA), destroying properties worth millions of cedis.

A clash between galamsey operators and staff of AGA in Obuasi in the Ashanti Region led to the death of the company’s top official in February.

Asked if the commission is losing the fight against illegal miners, Aubyn said “we are not,” adding that the commission is focused on “resolving” the issue.

According to him, the commission has proposed the registration of illegal miners.

We are not losing the fight. I think we have a focus on resolving that. The commission has proposed something we believed when applied will really help,” he said.

The proposal is “by registering illegal miners,” he added.

Aubyn said using police force on galamsey operators has not solved the problem.

He explained that by registering galamseyers, the commission will be able to “know who they are and once we know where they are, we either move them from where they are because we know where they are or support them to regularize themselves.”

He added that the commission will make “things easier for them to register” and “to work peaceful.

Mineral revenue fell nearly 14 per cent to $ 3.39 billion in 2015 down from $3.94 billion the previous year due to reduction in production and lower gold price as well as decline in shipments of manganese.

The activities of galamseyers on the Obuasi miners of AGA has led to the retrenchment of its workers, and a decline in mining operation.

AGA said the mining areas are no longer safe for its workers and had subsequently asked for troops protection.

Last month, AGA dragged Ghana to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes over inadequate security at its Obuasi mines.

AngloGold Ashanti said in a statement that the decision to place a request before the ICSID was necessitated by the continuous invasion of its concessions by some small scale miners.

The ICSID is an international arbitration institution headquartered in Washington DC, which facilitates dispute resolution between international investors and host states. The statement said Ghana’s Attorney General and other authorities have been duly notified about the commencement of proceedings of the ICSID.

But speaking at the 88 annual general meeting of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Minister of Land and Mines, Nii Osah Mills said government is concerned about the invasion of mines by illegal miners.

“I can assure you that we as a government are concerned. We are concerned, we are looking at ways to try and address the situation and we have not given up because I know all of you are concerned and we would like to have every mine operator given total security and for you to feel that your investment are safe,” he said.

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