Gov’t pledges support for artisanal & small-scale miners

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A Senior Principal Inspector of Mines at the Minerals Commission, Wilson Zoogah, has pledged government’s continuous support to artisanal small-scale miners to enable them adopt environmentally friendly methods in their mining activities.

“The Minerals Commission in collaboration with private companies is offering a lot of support to the small-scale mining sector. Now, through the continuous collaboration we have the gold katcha which is a mercury-free mechanism to extract gold. Already we have presented 100 pieces of the Gold Katcha across the country. We are doing this to ensure that the miners extract gold without using mercury…”

Speaking on the sidelines of an award ceremony by Solidaridad West Africa under the Promoting Mercury-Free Mining in Ghana project, Mr. Zoogah called for multi-sectoral support in ending illegal small-scale mining.

“The threats of illegal small-scale mining is not a threat to only government but to all of us. When the river gets polluted, when we do not get the needed revenue from small scale mining, it affects all of us. Therefore, it is with a concerted efforts from all of us that we can end illegal small scale mining.”

The Promoting Mercury-Free Mining Ghana project is a three-year initiative funded by the US government and being implemented by international NGOs PACT and Solidaridad West Africa.

The project aims to reduce the use of mercury in Ghana’s artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector through education, the introduction of better technology, strengthened equipment supply chains and demonstration of business incentives for mercury-free gold production.

As part of the project’s implementation, PACT and Solidaridad West Africa organized an awards programme to donate mercury-free processing equipment to selected project mines.

Five small-scale mining companies in the Western, Western North and Ashanti regions have been selected to go through a competition on the harmful effects of the usage of mercury and its implications to the environment for an award which is the new mercury-free processing equipment worth $60,000. The equipment includes Gold Katcha, Gold Konka, Gold Cube and Gas Fuelded Smelter.

Programs Manager for Responsible Gold Mining at Solidaridad Yaw Britwum Opoku said the initiative is to promote responsible mining.

“Despite widespread knowledge that mercury is poisonous and contributes negatively to community and environmental health, cleaner and safer alternatives have been slow to take hold because most miners are either not aware of these technologies or find them to be expensive, difficult to use, have slow processing time…”.

He therefore mentioned that “the Promoting Mercury-Free Mining project is facilitating mercury-free gold processing, by supporting small-scale gold mining companies to test mercury-free processing systems to produce gold which can be marketed as mercury-free”.

“The project will also carry out a community outreach and media campaign to educate small-scale gold mining communities on the dangers of mercury, responsible use of mercury and mercury-free technologies. We will also promote the procurement of mercury-free processing equipment by other mines in the project districts by facilitating engagements between them, financial institutions and mercury-free equipment providers.”

In order to ensure that majority of miners transition from the use of mercury to mercury-free processing technologies, Mr. Britwum Opoku appealed to donor organizations to support research organizations such as the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) to develop mercury-free mining technologies that are affordable, portable, easy-to-use and with relatively high ore recovery rates.

Representatives of the competing mining companies applauded Solidaridad for the initiative and pledged their unwavering support to help sanitize the small-scale mining.

“We appreciate the dangers associated with the continuous mining of our natural resources illegally. Therefore, any initiative to ensure that we will not stop mining but will do so without destroying the environment is highly welcomed.”

By Eric Yaw Adjei|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana

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