The Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, says the government has so far activated 20 community mines and plans to increase the number to 100 by the close of 2021, to ensure local communities benefit from the gold mining value chain.
Dr. Bawumia, who disclosed this at the opening of the 2021 Ghana Gold Mining Week and Expo in Takoradi, said the government will support their extraction of gold with advanced technology to help them mine in an environmentally friendly manner.
“It is well known that the rise of illegal mining is no doubt being fuelled by unemployment, but also by the desire of the average community members to have the feel of the minerals. In this regard, the government is putting in a lot of measures to stimulate job creation in an integrated and inclusive manner throughout the entire gold mining value chain. It is in this context that the President launched the community mining scheme; that is why 20 community mines have been activated.”
He said the sites will employ up to 3,000 youth, adding that he has received assurances from the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources that by the end of the year, “we will have about 100 more community mining sites also activated. And you are looking at 3,000 people per mining site, so with 100 of them, we are looking at a potential of 300,000 people getting employed”.
“What is more important is that the government is going to assist each of these mining sites with machinery that allows us to extract the gold without the addition of mercury or cyanide, and we will use very little water and in fact, some machinery just requires a barrel of water. So we are going to do a lot of the small-scale mining in a very environmentally sustainable way, and that is very good for us going forward,” he said.
In a reaction to the Vice President’s announcement to activate more community mines with environmentally friendly gold processing technology, the Chief Executive of Commodity Monitor, Stephen Yeboah, who had earlier supplied the Minerals Commission with four mercury-free gold processors, told Citi News, the government’s intervention will not only protect the environment but enable local manufacturing and technology transfer of the mercury-free gold processor.
“A direct intervention by government in small scale mining in terms of formalizing the sector is positive. Formalization of the Artisanal Small Scale Mining has for a long time been mere rhetoric, but today’s assurance by the Vice President shows that government is keen on streamlining the operations of the sector. For me, the government’s intervention is key because when it comes to embracing technology in the sector, cost and financing is a difficulty, so if the government is going to pre-finance a technology that will help these miners to formalize and operate within the right environmental condition, that is beneficial,” he said.
The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah, who has been the brain behind the Ghana Gold Mining Week and Expo, said the maiden edition in 2020 already provided insights into innovative mining technologies and equipment that are revolutionising small scale mining operations.
“The Ghana Gold Expo 2020 as many of us witnessed from the 8th to 10th of March 2020, was not only successful in an organization but in outcomes too. The successes from the Expo have really taught us that, we can cause big things to happen if only we become resolute in our thoughts.”
“Last year (2020), we discussed Sika Bukyia (a mercury-free gold recovery machinery) and the Commodity Monitor’s Zero Mercury Machine that recover over 90 percent of gold. Thank God, the Sika Bukyia machinery has been rolled out by Paa Grant University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) Tarkwa and accepted by both the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission. The Sika Bukyia technique allows for direct smelting of gold concentrate without the use of mercury, thereby promoting “green gold” in compliance with international standards and good environmental governance in our country”, he said.
Touching on how the government is making sure mining communities benefit from mineral resources, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah thanked the government for ceding $100 million to mining companies in the region for the construction of roads and related infrastructure in mining communities.
Field trips to some polluted water bodies, mine sites, and reclamation sites have been earmarked for the second and final day of the 2021 Ghana Gold Mining Week and Expo, themed; ‘National inclusive growth and enabling policies in the mining sector’.