The Overlord of the Akyem Abuakwa Kingdom, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panin II, Okyenhene, has described the government’s community mining policy as a disguised form of the much-condemned illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.
According to the Okyenhene, the policy would not have the support of the chiefs for reasons that it will destroy further the devastated lands and natural resources.
“Enough is enough. That mining, the galamsey which today has been named as community mining, won’t be allowed, because it is not helping anyone…” he said in Twi.
The Community Mining Scheme, a novel mining model introduced by the Akufo-Addo government, is meant to curb illegal small-scale mining in the country.
It is a way of involving indigenes in mining ventures lawfully within their localities so that they could benefit from their natural resource endowment and ensure sustainable livelihoods, whilst ensuring the stoppage of the wanton destruction of the environment.
The initiative is an adaptation of mining provided for under sections 81-99 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act703).
To ensure a successful implementation of the scheme, three key strategies had been outlined. They are, the formation of community mining oversight committees, adoption of the small-scale miners’ code of practice. and provision of support services to the community miners.
At the time of writing this report, checks revealed that as of June 2020, over 50 licenses had been issued to miners for work in various communities across the country, including the Easter Region.
Meanwhile, addressing the newly-appointed Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Kwame Acheampong, who had paid a courtesy call on the Chief, the Okyenhene was cross about the community mining scheme.
He recounted that when the former Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Asoma Cheremeh, came to him with the initiative, he told him point-blank not to deceive the chiefs.
His reason, as he articulated to Eastern Regional Minister, was that community mining was not different from galamsey.
He had since threatened that the policy would be met with strong opposition, on the fact that the chiefs would rather be blamed for the pollution of lands and water bodies.
“We will rise up against that policy, and we will not agree to the community mining initiative, because if Birim becomes polluted, the blame will not be on the MCE, but the chiefs and the President. So, we have advised ourselves because we have talked about this severally and nothing has been done about it. No one can issue a mining license to someone without letting traditional authorities who are custodians of the land know about that arrangement.
“We understand all documents and license needed for one to undertake mining rest in the bosom of the President in Accra, so if one obtains the license he will then bring it to the DCEs at the local level for them to organise a durbar to inform the people, but the chiefs do not have any say in it. When all is done, the people will then approach the chiefs to inform them about their acquired license to mine in the community, and will just present a small token for the chiefs, but the chiefs will then be blamed after lands and water bodies are destroyed in the process.
“There are a lot of uncovered pits and lands that have not been reclaimed across the communities, which are dangerous to human lives, especially our children. We want to have a meeting with you for us to get a reclamation policy,” he said in Twi and translated into English.
The Okyenhene recounted that Peter Amewu, former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, launched a reclamation program, but nothing was heard about it again.
He stressed that it was not under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriot Party that lands and water bodies will be destroyed, “so we need to put an end to it.”
It would be recalled that the revered Okyenhene has himself suffered public backlash for what was alleged to be his involvement in galamsey in his town, Kyebi.
The Chief had debunked such claims, with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources corroborating his stance in a statement.
On the contrary, the Okyenhene, through his foundation, is tackling deforestation, most of which is caused by illegal mining. The Okyenhene’s Foundation has rolled out an afforestation programme, planting trees across his kingdom, an initiative which has received tremendous commendations.