Australian govt backs Ghana’s anti-galamsey fight, pledges support

Australian govt backs Ghana’s anti-galamsey fight, pledges support
Source: Ghana | | George Nyavor |
Date: 14-04-2017 Time: 07:04:35:am

The Australian government has lauded Ghana’s campaign against the activities of small-scale illegal miners and has promised to support the effort.

The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Andrew Barnes, said the anti-galamsey fight that has been gaining traction since last month is timely and it underscores the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration's resolve to end the destruction to water bodies, arable land and the environment by the illegal miners.

“The Australian government, through its embassy in Accra, is very supportive of Ghana government’s attempt to manage the galamsey. We understand that it is a significant problem for Ghana, for the environment, for health and safety, for the people involved in this industry. It is also bad for the economy because it is diverting a lot of the gold revenues out of Ghana without being appropriately taxed and it also makes the legitimate investments of mining companies much more difficult to work here and undermine the legitimate miners,” said Andrew Barnes.

“The Australian government we are supporting the Minster and the Minerals Commission and the mining companies and we want to do all we can to help them,” he adds.

He said as a first step Australia will provide funds for a stakeholder workshop on the campaign.

Andrew Barnes

Andrew Barnes

He was speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on the Australian government administered Direct Aid Program (DAP) on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, held at his residence in Accra.

The 2016 – 2017 round of the DAP initiative will support 24 development projects from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Commenting further on the Ghana’s fight against illegal mining, Andrew Barnes said his country was very impressed with the steps taken by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, end galamsey.

“He is an excellent Minister and we believe he is working very hard,” he said.

A media campaign against galamsey has snowballed into a fierce activism to end the effects of illegal mining and has won the support of the current government, civil society organisations, professional associations and the public.

The Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, recently designated 14 courts to hear illegal mining-related cases in a bid to expedite theses.

Various hashtags aimed at generating advocacy for the anti-galamsey fight have also been trending on social media.

“It has been neglected in the past and it is something that Ghana absolutely cannot afford to ignore and must not walk away from the problem,” said the Mr Barnes.

He said for the fight against illegal mining to be successful, it will need a concerted effort by “chiefs, by the legitimate miners and the landholders because it's a problem that we can’t allow them to destroy the environment and the waterways.”