Editorial: Amendment of Minerals & Mining Act is a must, to rope in those who give out lands

A High Court judge, Justice Lydia Osei-Marfo, is calling for an amendment to the Minerals and Mining Act to also go after chiefs and farmers who give out their lands to illegal miners.

The judge in her remarks in court on Monday, during the sentencing of Aisha Huang, said it is not enough to prosecute only illegal miners. According to a myjoyonline story, she said stringent efforts must be made to prosecute chiefs and other landowners who give out lands to illegal miners to help win the fight against galamsey.

En Huang, also known as Aisha Huang, was on Monday jailed four-and-a-half years for engaging in illegal mining by the Accra High Court. The jail term was in respect of offences she committed between 2015 and 2017 before she was first deported in 2018 following the Attorney-General’s decision to discontinue the case. In addition to the custodial sentence, Huang was also fined GH¢48,000.

Aisha Huang was jailed on four counts of undertaking a mining operation without a license, facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation, the illegal employment of foreigners and entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry.

Reading her judgment, Justice Lydia Osei-Marfo noted that considering all the evidence provided by the prosecution, she is left with no doubt that Aisha Huang’s actions have been detrimental to the environment, and have deprived many of their livelihoods. She, therefore, called for an amendment to the Minerals and Mining Act to also go after chiefs and farmers who give out their lands to illegal miners.

The Chronicle believes that the call for amendment of the Act to hold accountable not only illegal miners, but also chiefs and landowners involved in the destructive practice of galamsey is a significant step towards combating this environmental menace. The urgency to address illegal mining, particularly in Ghana, cannot be overstated. It has wreaked havoc on our environment, communities and economy.

The impact of galamsey is painfully visible. Our once pristine water bodies are now polluted, agricultural lands are degraded and entire ecosystems have been irreversibly damaged. The root causes of this issue are multifaceted, involving a network of actors, and it’s imperative to target all responsible parties to truly curb this crisis.

Chiefs and landowners, in some instances, have played a role in perpetuating galamsey, by either directly engaging in the practice or turning a blind eye to illegal mining activities on their lands, in exchange for monetary gains. Their involvement is not merely passive but an active facilitation of environmental degradation and a betrayal of the trust bestowed upon them by their communities.

Amending the law to encompass provisions that hold chiefs and landowners accountable is a necessary step going forward. It is crucial to create a legal framework that disincentivise the exploitation of land for short-term gains, at the expense of our environment’s long-term sustainability.

For instance, in the Western Region, once renowned for its lush forests and thriving biodiversity, illegal mining activities have caused irreparable harm. Rivers and streams have become heavily polluted, affecting not just aquatic life but also the livelihoods of local communities, dependent on these water sources.

The short-term financial gains from illegal mining cannot outweigh the long-term environmental and socio-economic consequences faced by their communities. The Chronicle strongly requests that urgent action is needed to hold accountable those involved in galamsey and also those who give out the lands.


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