2017/04/25Posted by Mr Eric Kwofie

Stakeholders in Ghana have intensified the fight against ‘galamsey’ in recent times, but in order to do so effectively, we have to identity the exact cancer we are fighting. This dwells on the misconception that small scale mining and ‘galamsey’ are the same. Registered mining operations are those that have been licensed by the State to mine in designated areas (not exceeding 25acres) for 3-5years (Appiah 1998, The good in evil; a discourse analysis of the ‘galamsey’ industry in Ghana). Therefore, any mining operation that is not registered is regarded as illegal mining, since most of such activities are on small scale basis hence, illegal small scale mining. ‘Galamsey’, originated from the phrase “Gather and sell” during the colonial era. ‘Galamsey’ was first banned by the British government in Ghana (Gold Coast), in order for the British government to gain monopoly in the mining industry during colonial times and has been regarded as an illegal activity since then. The difference between illegal small scale mining and Galamsey has to do with the instruments and equipment used in their operations. Galamsey involve the use of basic tools, shovels, pickaxes and spade to dig the grounds for precious minerals. However, illegal small scale mining involves the use of sophisticated tools like excavators and explosives. Since galamsey involves basic tools, it takes a longer time to cause unrepairable damage to the environment, hence, a low degradation rate. Galamsey operation is the surest way to have minimum pollution in order for the environment to have enough time for regeneration. This is because, the assimilative capacity of land and water resources allows a resource to absorb waste without change in the quality and aesthetic value and the ability to regenerate itself. Therefore, if the rate of pollution does not exceed the regeneration rate, then environmental degradation will be minimized. It is therefore expedient for galamsey to be recognized by law and given the necessary regulations to operate, because the PNDCL 218 does not recognize Galamsey operations in Ghana. Furthermore, Article 275(6) of the constitution stipulates that: “Every mineral in its natural state in, under, or upon any land in Ghana, river, stream, water courses throughout Ghana, the exclusive economic zone and any area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the property of the Republic of Ghana and shall be vested in the President on behalf of, and in trust for the people”. The above article requires every mineral miner to obtain permission in order to mine in Ghana, yet this regulation does not seem to work. There are laws and we must ensure their applicability. In conclusion, indiscriminate mining and its effect on the environment must be addressed by ensuring that the polluter pays for the pollution. That way, a land designated for mining must factor into it the cost on vegetation cover, forest reserve and environmental pollution. Also the enforcers of the laws and institutions must be firm and fair in ensuring good regulations and save us the many talks with no actions. However, bureaucratic systems of getting concession licenses must a thing of the past. Too much regulation is a spring board to illegality. “Oligopolization” and monopoly of the mining industry by government must be looked into for indigenes and investors to freely operate without barriers. Nathaniel, DWAMENA Student, Department of Geography and Rural Development, KNUST Local Coordinator, African Students for Liberty President Volunteer: INSTITUTE FOR LIBERTY AND POLICY INNOVATION (ILAPI-GHANA) Students for Liberty - KNUST natdwamena@gmail.com " :