Rooting out Galamsey is ensuring the security of Ghana’s future

A report on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 indicates that some 300 Chinese illegal miners have opted to leave Ghana voluntarily. This follows a number of arrests made recently of some foreign nationals engaged in illegal mining in several parts of Ghana. At Kyebi in the Eastern Region alone, 56 foreign nationals were arrested and are awaiting processing for deportation to their countries of origin. The arrests are consequential to a presidential task force set up last month to root out illegal gold mining by Ghanaian nationals illegal immigrants. Arrests made so far show the progress being made to stem the practice of illegal mining that is devastating Ghana’s environment. We urge the authorities not to rest until they have purged out the intruders.

Amandla commends the president and the authorities for heeding the call to act in time to ensure that no further encroachment occurs to worsen the environment. As we write most of Ghana’s major water bodies are compromised. Toxic material used to process gold has killed off life in the affected rivers. Farmlands has also been expropriated for prospecting and the wholesomeness of produce grown in those mining areas cannot be vouched for. Ghana, indeed risks losing much of its farmland owing to the practice known in local parlance as galamsey, a corruption of “gather them and sell.”

Notwithstanding our support for any action to stop all illegal mining, we hope the current exercise would be undertaken in all honesty and sincerity. Already we hear complaints from some operators that their equipment have been seized and burned. We think the authorities must rethink that action. Most of galamsey is surface mining and that is the reason for the environmental devastation. We recommend that the seized equipment, most of which are heavy earthmoving machinery be used to fill the pits that could pose a danger to life in future. 

There are also reports of stealing of gold and other property by the security personnel involved in the exercise. It is shameful and must be addressed quickly to stem any compromise that could set in in the long run.

And most importantly, it is important to remove politics from the exercise to ensure fairness. Some operators who belong to the opposition parties claim they are being targeted while those belonging to the ruling party are ignored. We think this can mar the whole exercise and Ghanaians would be the worse for it. It is important for the security personnel involved to understand that the initiative to drive out illegal miners from the system is not personal and political. It is for Ghana and should be carried out in a spirit of patriotism. Already some farmers have lost their livelihood. Communities in the areas of galamsey operations have serious health risks. These should drive security personnel involved in the exercise to be impartial and fair.

We think too that the exercise should not end with merely rooting out the galamseyers. Chiefs and self-styled land owners who sell property for the projects should be brought to book and be made to share the cost of rehabilitating the environment. Hitting their pockets would make them think twice of returning to the illegal activity.

We advise the Minerals Commission to cease issuing any more mining licenses particularly for surface mining in forest reserves and farmlands. And future licensees must be asked to make an undertaking not to use toxic material and also to put some rehabilitation in place to return the environment to its original state.

The environment and the wealth therein are all a legacy meant to be exploited for the development of Ghana. It is insurance for the nation’s sustained future and cannot and should not be left unguarded. Any nation that ignores its future risks losing its past and Ghana cannot afford that.

Posted by on Jun 15 2013. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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