Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Galamsey" operators at Kenyasi to be licensed

An office of the Minerals Commission is to be opened at Kenyasi to allow illegal miners (Galamsey) to register and obtain licenses to regularize their activities. The commission has an office at Bibiani in the Western Region that gives licenses to small scale miners.Mr. Nelson Ahedor, Senior Mining Engineer of the Minerals Commission, said the commission would provide technical assistance on mining to the licensed "galamsey" operators. He was addressing the chiefs and people of Kenyasi and Nkaseim, mining communities in the district, at separate forums on Tuesday. The forums, organised by the Brong-Ahafo Regional Security Council (REGSEC), was aimed at negotiating with the operators in finding ways to bring their activities under control.Mr. Ahedor said the government recognized the important role small scale mining played in the growth of the economy and it was against this background that the commission had demarcated 44 mining concessions across the country for its operators.He said since galamsey was illegal its operators worked sometimes during the night to outwit security agencies and this often resulted in some of them getting trapped in pits and loss of lives.He appealed to the operators to go through the procedures and obtain licenses so that they would operate in an atmosphere of peace. Mr. Eric Opoku, the Brong-Ahafo deputy Regional Minister, said the government had no intention to clamp down on "galamsey" operators but was worried about the dangers associated with their activities. He said the rate at which galamsey was gaining prominence in the Asutifi District since the advent of Newmont Ghana Gold in the area was alarming and there was the need to educate operators to obtain licenses to regularize their activities.Mr. Opoku said unemployment and poverty were the major contributory factors that led the youth to go into galamsey in mining communities. He assured the people that the government had initiated some policies such as the youth in agric programme to create job opportunities for the youth.Mr. Haruna Seidu Aboagye, Chairman of Sakamraso Galamsey Committee at Kenyasi, said the committee's membership of 4,000 in 2006 had jumped to 10,000 operators.He said members were not violent and appealed to the government to negotiate with the management of the Ahafo Project of NGGL so they could obtain concessions. At Nkaseim Nana Adjei Danso Ababio, the chief, said because of the poverty level in the area most families depended on galamsey for their survival and any attempt to collapse the industry would bring extra burden to the people. Mr. Kwadwo Bosea Kese, spokesman of the illegal miners, appealed to the district assembly to extend electricity to their operational sites.

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