Gov’t to import mercury-free machines to support small scale miners

November 25, 2021 By 0 Comments

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has hinted on the importation of 100 mercury-free mining equipment into the country, to help reduce activities of illegal mining.

According to the Ministry, these machines, which come at a cost of $113,000 each, will be given to small scale miners to work with and pay within a year.

Mr Martin Ayisi, Chief Executive Officer of the Lands Commission, a subsidiary institution under the Ministry, made this known to the media in Accra recently.

He indicated  that the benefit the country stands to gain from these machines are that it will first of all reduce the amount of mercury used in mining, which end up polluting Ghana’s water bodies.

Secondly, it will help reduce the involvement of foreigners in Ghana’s mining space.

Explaining how the machines will reduce the influx of foreigners into Ghana’s mining space, Mr Ayisi indicated that our local miners are unable to afford the machines due to their expensive nature.

The foreigners, therefore, buy these machines for our local small scale miners to work with and by so doing gain access to work in our mining space.

Mr Ayisi revealed that the first 20 machines will arrive in the country in the next two weeks and hoped small scale miners will take advantage of it.

“I am proud to say that, now we have been able to raise money to bring in about 100 mercury free machines. The full set cost $113,000 and clearly this is not something the small scale miners will be able to pay and that is  how come the Chinese and other foreigners came in, supply them with the equipment and then they were doing all sort of things and others we are seeing now…”

Other measures the Commission said it has put in place to make the mining space a welcoming atmosphere to operate in, is the digitalisation.

According to Mr Ayisi, there have been improvements in licensing regime. He noted that the Commission has abolished paper based application and has upgraded its Information Technology infrastructure to support online application processes.

According to him, now all records regarding mineral rights are being digitalised to enable individuals and organisations with mineral rights or those yet to have transacted business with the Commission online.

That aside, the CEO also spoke about the expansion of the local content space to enable more Ghanaians participate in the mining sectors.

He noted that items such as cooking, provision of overalls and work cloths, general lubricants, hoses and fittings and custom clearing of goods and others are to be provided by Ghanaians.

The CEO indicated that Ghana generated a whopping $1.2b on local procurement and believed that the country stands to gain more in the coming years, due to the expansion of the items on the local content scheme.

Another path the Commission hinted it wants to protect is Ghana’s lands, as a result of illegal mining. Mr Ayisi noted reclamation has begun in most parts of the country where mining activities take place and will end by end of the year.

Aside all these developments, Mr Ayisi noted that the Commission is still bedeviled with challenges of illegal mining, encroachment of query sites, smuggling of gold, illegal sand winning and  cost of exploration.

He, therefore, called on all Ghanaians to support the Commission overcome these challenges.

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel A. Jinapir, who led the delegation to do the briefing, also indicated that the president is keen on reducing activities of illegal mining and that, the Ministry would embark on reforms that would help realise that dream.

He encouraged people to take the digitalisation agenda, mercury free machines and other reforms serious, because these are the measures that will help reduce illegal mining.

He said once the government has cautioned people not to deal in illegal mining, then it has to create the enabling environment for people to mine responsibly, hence the initiatives put in place by the Lands Commission.

He also indicated that it is the president’s vision to see a lot of indigenes involved in mining because by so doing, a chunk of the money from mining will be retained in the country. He, therefore, encouraged local miners to take advantage of the local content policy so that the country’s mining sector will be indigenised.

He concluded that the extractive sector in every country is bedeviled with challenges, but only strong and firm policies that can help surmount some of these challenges.

He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to help make the mining space in Ghana one with proper regulatory framework.