Small-scale miners threaten government with court action

The Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) has called on the government to bring the military in the “Operation Halt” to order.

The association said after seven days, if all efforts to get government to bring the military to order fails, it would resort to legal action against the government.

At a press conference by the GNASSM at the John Benedict Ventures, a small-scale mining site at Twifo Ntafrewaso in the Twifo Atti Mokwa District in the Central Region last Monday, the Communications Director of the association, Mr Abdulai Razak Alhassan, said the association wanted the government to, as a matter urgency, clarify directives given on the militarisation of efforts to stop galamsey in concessions in the communities, to bring sanity in the sector.

The press conference was held in reaction to military activities at several concessions at Twifo Ntafrewaso, Asamoahkrom and Awisem as part of the Operation Halt.

The operation

Some security personnel known to be members of the “Operation Halt” last Thursday stormed the sites and torched facilities and equipment running into millions of cedis

The members said the activities of the military had led to the loss of several machines and brutalities on legal small-scale miners insisting that it was a betrayal of trust.

“We express our total displeasure about government’s u-turn on issues raised at the recently held small-scale mining dialogue at the Accra International Conference Centre,” Mr Alhassan said.

He added: “We never discussed militarisation in the fight or using brutal force in the fight against illegal mining.”

He said they wanted clarification on the President’s directives to the military, querying whether the President ordered the military to burn excavators on site or seize them.

Taxes and royalties

Mr Alhassan said taxes and royalties were being paid by the legally acquired concession owners, adding that the attacks on the site were uncalled for.

He stated that the site owner showed their permits but they were ignored.

The communications director said the GNASSM gave the government the community mining idea to help formalise illegal small-scale mining and added that although the idea was good, its implementation had been poor.

He called for the involvement of the technical experts to advise the military on their actions to make the “Operation Halt” a success.

The National Chairman of GNASSM, Mr Philip Akuffo, said the soldiers were going beyond their boundaries and added that the association would not sit down for the soldiers to do their own things.

The Financial Director of GNASSM, Mr Francis Opoku, said the immense economic impact of small-scale mining could not be overlooked with the “Operation Halt”.

“You can’t do mining without water. So we draw water from the rivers but we don’t discharge into the waters. We are operating within the mining laws and regulations.

He said there were over 300 people mining at the site whose livelihoods had been affected and more than 500,000 people nationwide.

By Shirley Asiedu-Addo

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