“My major concern is its demonization, it is not an evil thing. Yes it has gotten out of hand with the water pollution especially and the involvement of foreigners but it can be managed very well if the Minerals Commission become proactive and crack the whip as well as set new laws. It’s unfortunate to hear officers of the commission also complaining about the menace” Okatakyie (OKT) Amankwa Afrifa, a Minerals Engineer and New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Western Region Communications Officer has a different perception about the anti galamsey (illegal small scale mining) campaign.
Speaking to www.233times.com, OKT as he is affectionately called had some unconventional thoughts about the galamsey. According to him, galamsey “can improve the economy of the country, create employment and curb social vices like armed robbery, stealing, etc. It will improve the standard of living of most of our rural communities. For your information, it is the gold we get from galamsey and small scale mining that feed the precious minerals company and stays here in the country that form that large mining companies go to the countries of their mother companies. Ghana doesn’t get anything.”
In his defence, OKT who is the son of the late General Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa (Head of state of Ghana and leader of the military government in 1969) said “People have forgotten that there are professionals in the mining field who can provide solutions to how best galamsey and small scale mining can be done in environmentally friendly conditions and we allow those who know nothing about mining to make noise. Most of the commentators haven’t even visited a mine site before but seeing pictures on social media and some videos they jump into conclusion to condemn. There is the University of Mines and Technology, UMaT in Tarkwa, my Alma mater that train professionals and can create a module and regulation for environmentally friendly galamsey operations. Also all discussions are condemning the operations whilst there are over a million ways it can be managed well.”
Asking him who has not been responsible enough, OKT posited that “The Minerals Commission, they’re empowered to give da authorization for small scale mining operations, they have a map of all da concessions in da country and have issued licenses to operators but now join in the discussions of a ban. It’s pathetic.”
“Is there any hope?” this Reporter asked him. In his lengthy answer OKT said “There will only be hope when the right people are consulted for solutions and government will have the will to listen and enact appropriate legislation for its operations. In my view all alluvial mining operations should be halted immediately and deadline given for da enactment of a better policy and regulation for their operation. Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency should be expanded by creating District Offices of about 5 permanent staff and 5 National Service personnel per district who will supervise the activities of operators and make sure they do da right thing. There should be the education of community leaders and opinion leaders on the management of the operations and what the law says as well as make them understand the work of the supervising agencies. Those involved should be made to form cooperatives with professionals as their leaders, every cooperative should have a Mining Engineer, Minerals Engineer, Geological Engineer and any 2 other mining professionals. Just as we have Feeder Roads, Urban Roads and Highways in the Road Sector so should we have Large Scale Mining, Small Scale Mining and Alluvial Mining in the Mining sector for effective management. There can even be a Minister of State to see to this if government would be very committed to regularizing da operations and halting da menace, this I pray and hope the current government will do.”
Author: Nana Kwesi Coomson (www.233times.com) @nkcoomson on Twitter