Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mining George Mireku Duker has described as utter shameful and irresponsible how the greed for personal gains is blinding some residents in mineral-endowed communities to watch on for pristine natural resources, especially water bodies, to be destroyed without recourse to consequences on future generations.
He holds residents in communities nestling around water bodies responsible for allowing them to be destroyed forgetting how resourceful such water bodies have been to their very existence.
Speaking at a stakeholders engagement on responsible mining at Bepoh in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality of the Western Region, a frustrated deputy minister could not fathom why residents including traditional leaders have watched on for the Mesin River to be polluted beyond comprehension.
He wondered what future generations will think of the present generation for allowing the Mesin River to be rendered useless when for centuries the Mesin River was central to the survival of thousands of residents.
“Because of greed, we are destroying this country, our future and that of our children. Anyone here at Bepoh cannot claim not to be aware of what is happening to the Mesin River. It’s utter shame that traditional leaders here have also watched on for the Mesin River to be destroyed irrespective of the fact that they are well aware of how useful the river is. Why should it be so. That because of gold we don’t care and have allowed the river to be destroyed. How can anyone explain this,” he berated traditional leaders.
Mireku Duker described persons engaged in illegal mining as unpatriotic and criminals whose actions must not go unpunished.
He made a solemn pledge to work assiduously to ensure that anyone, irrespective of status in society, caught mining on a water body is given the full punishment thereof.
According to him government is fully aware of the fact that mining has become a critical economic venture for millions of Ghanaians, hence the introduction of the community mining scheme which will allow people to mine but responsibly.
“All the large-scale mining companies in this country together employs 30,000 [people]. This includes both Ghanaians and expatriates. However, the small scale mining sector gives direct employment to over a million Ghanaians. So, as Deputy Minister in charge of Mining, I do not agree that small scale mining is banned. But if we will be able to continue to do so, we must do so responsibly. And that is non-negotiable.”
He warned that anyone who is not ready to embrace the Community Mining concept but still wants to mine illegally should be ready to face the full consequences of their actions.
Secretary to the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Mining Prestea Huni Valley Nuhu Mohammed Mustapha, in an address, suggested how illegal small-scale mining could be stopped.
“The illegal small scale miners use a certain black hose that connects the Changfan machine. This is what powers the machine and is very essential to its performance. What we are proposing is that government bans its importation. This life span of that black hose is only two weeks and the miners will be looking for one to buy. So when they do not get one to buy, they will not be able to power the Changfan machine and that will put them out of work. Banning the Changfan machine will not solve anything. Rather government should go after that black hose.”