Mining industry stakeholders have called for improved and sustained support for artisanal and small scale mining of both salt and gold in Ghana.
According to them, the downgrading of artisanal and small scale mining (which directly employs an estimated one million people and supports approximately 4.5 million more) in favor of large scale mining is negatively impacting government’s ability to reap the needed revenue from Ghana’s natural resources.
In an attempt to understand the issues affecting artisanal and small-scale mining of salt and gold in the country, and also help in forging a clear path for the development of the sector, the Third World Network-Africa with support from STAR-Ghana, UKAid, EU and DANIDA, undertook a nationwide multi-stakeholder engagement exercise from 2018 to 2019.
Of the many conclusions and recommendations from the nationwide stakeholder engagements, including the calls for a paradigm shift from minerals for revenue to minerals for transformation and development, the Executive Director at the Third World Network Africa, Dr. Yao Graham said if proper attention is given to artisanal and small scale mining, local mining economies can be significantly transformed.
“The poor cousin status of artisanal and small scale mining in this country in comparison with large scale mining is not beneficial for this country.
Because artisanal and small scale mining is an important source of livelihood for millions of people and public policy, the functioning of institutions and their resourcing should put artisanal and small scale mining on the same footing as they do large-scale mining.”
On his part, the former CEO of the Minerals Commission and advisor on Mining to the Minister of Lands & Natural Resources, Benjamin Aryee, said the area of salt mining in particular needs to be attended to as the local salt industry risks losing its competitiveness if the needed investments are not made.
“We need to inject capital into the production of salt to ensure that we are producing on an industrial scale not artisanal like we are doing in most places. Because the artisanal will never compete because the quality won’t be good and the cost will be too high. Even as we invest in industrial production of salt we also need to take on the interest of the local communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, a salt farmer and an outgoing executive of the Ada Songor Salt Cooperative Association Lawer Hushie, cautioned government and other stakeholders not to neglect local salt miners in an attempt to modernize salt production in the country.
“Ensuring that locals participate in salt production helps in satisfying the local content and local participation requirements of industry. The locals should not be dispossessed of the resource they have come to depend on. They can be part of the whole economic process,” he added.
The Executive Director at the Third World Network Africa, Dr. Yao Graham finally called for a balancing act between the modernisation of salt production and the protection of the livelihoods of salt mining communities.