Director of Finance and Communication for the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners, Francis Opoku says small-scale miners only make up 25% of all miners in the country.
He said a chunk of the other miners are engaged in illegal mining activities, thus have not been licensed and are not members of the Association.
According to him, these miners are those engaged in illegal mining in the river bodies and forests. He explained that licensed small-scale miners are monitored and have demarcated mining areas that do not include water bodies and forests.
Speaking on JoyNews‘ Newsfile, Saturday, he said the Association is equally worried over the illegal mining activities in the country as they stand to lose in the end.
“Most licensed small-scale miners are equally concerned and worried when we see some of these pictures about the destruction of our water bodies and forests and the emerging dire consequences we face as a country. Honestly, we are even more worried because it is our work that is at stake…when it comes to small-scale mining, we are people who have gone through the process to acquire a license legitimately from the Minerals Commission and we are about only 25% in this sector,” he said.
Mr. Opoku debunked allegations that small-scale miners do not pay taxes and mine haphazardly.
“Small scale miners pay taxes through withholding tax and we all know that withholding tax is one of the tax regimes that are very effective….Small-scale mining licenses are site-specific so you cannot mine haphazardly and our operations are monitored. We have the coordinates guiding where we are supposed to mine and where we are not supposed to mine. I will not say everybody go strictly by that,” he added.
On Saturday, Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor said based on available statistics, small scale mining contributes to 40% of Ghana’s local gold produce.
According to him, despite the excesses with small scale mining, there is the need for a cautious approach in addressing the challenges within the sector.
“[Let’s] always remember that small scale mining contributes 40% of Ghana’s gold output. And the gold industry gives Ghana its highest foreign exchange earning, and it’s the highest revenue mobilising sector when it comes to export. So there’s a link between small scale mining, gold output, our national economy, our currency, our foreign exchange status and all of that, so when you’re dealing with small scale mining, you have to deal with it tactfully,” he noted.