When AMN asked him to comment on the problems that need immediate attention to sanitize and improve the small-scale mining sector in Ghana, Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM), Ernest Ansah-Owusu tabulated the following five-point difficulties.
1. Lack of technology and equipment- Many may say recent news tells a different story about the equipment proliferation in the small-scale mining sector in Ghana. Many Small-scale miners still rely on indigenous and antiquated technological skills for their activities. Thanks to the presence of the Chinese in the country, they have come with a modicum of cheaper sources of mechanization to the sector.
2. Inadequate training programmes for the sector. There is an urgent need for regular training programmes for small scale miners in Ghana. This will ensure that they are up to date with trends in technology and innovations. Periodic training programmes for the small-scale miner is a necessary ingredient to promote safety and efficient operations. This will go a long way to improve the sector in general.
3. Small scale mining is still poverty driven. It is not considered as a sector where elites and professionals should venture. The sector has been shamed in such a way that it is considered a means of rural livelihood and this contributes to the general unskillfulness of the sector. Due to that, graduate engineers do not like to associate themselves with the sector thereby leading to its dominance by unskilled business people whose activities don’t factor in environmental degradation nor remediations.
4. The sector has been grossly politicized lately and the accompanying level of corruption from the concession acquisition stages at the minerals commission, to mining and to sale of the final product. Due to high level of corruption, many rules, regulations and laws are not respected but flouted with impunity. The result bleeds into the very poor monitoring for the sector’s activities which is eventually crippling the entire sector as we see today in Ghana with respect to the recent fight against illegal mining activities.
5. Lack of Micro business support for small scale mining. It is very difficult to access financial support for small scale mining start-ups or activities. This has made the industry vulnerable to the foreigners who come in, provide the missing financial linkage and enter into unconscionable understandings with the locals to deliver.
Tabulated by Ernest Ansah-Owusu for the Accra Mining Network.