Technical Advisor to Lands and Natural Resources Minister has conceded that the failure by government to bring on board small scale miners did no good to the fight against illegal mining.
Benjamin Aryi stated that as a key stakeholder, certified small scale miners were isolated when government was taking the decision to sanitise the small scale mining sector.
That posture by government he noted did not help to realise the desired result and impact in the fight against the menace which did not go away even during the heightened period of the war.
According to him, the small scale miners who were doing mining the right way were fighting the menace of illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ but in their own small way, including setting up a ‘standing army’ that was fiercely fighting illegal miners.
He said government could have taken advantage of the existence of the ‘standing army’ of the small scale miners by learning from them and building on what had been started by the miners, who were on the ground and knew the methodology used by the illegal miners, to undertake their nefarious activities.
“We could have used the operations of legitimate and certified small scale miners as an example for others to follow but this didn’t happen.
Unfortunately, like the elephant in the room, government had a certain view that when the thing became a crisis, you couldn’t exactly distinguish between an illegal miner and the legal miner,” Mr Aryi stated.
The comments by Mr Aryi who was once CEO of the Minerals Commission corroborated a long-held position of members of the National Small Scale Miners Association who have described government’s wholesale ban on small scale mining is a non-starter.
Speaking at the same event in Obuasi, Director of Operations of the Ghana National Small Scale Miners Association, Emmanuel Yirenkyi Antwi said, “before the ban, many of our members were going through the process of first mine certification project so we thought that government should have recognised some of our members to use them as an example for the illegal miners to follow but that didn’t happen.”
Mr Benjamin Aryi is, however, optimistic things will fall in place and the war will be won.
His optimism is born out of some battles that were won at the initial stages of the war including the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) announcing at a point that they had seen improvement in the water bodies.