Ghana is pioneering what has largely been ignored in African mining sector – recognising the role of artisanal miners and bringing them into the mainstream fold. This is through the initiative of national business and community leaders.
According to the reform advocates, in spite of contributing a significance portion of Ghana’s mining revenue, unlike in mainstream mining, environmental and social challenges in artisanal mining are legendary. Artisanal mining accounted for an estimated 34% of Ghana’s gold production in 2014 and the livehoods of approximately 1 million people (and a total of 3 million dependents).
Dr. Toni Aubynn, CEO of the Minerals Commission calls for a major shift from a sector driven by poverty and a lack of options to operations that are run like efficient businesses with access to finance. “We need to shift from an insecure and dangerous sector to one that enjoys secure rights and provides safe and decent jobs to mineworkers and the local community,” he adds.
Echoing his sentiments, Nii Adjetey Kofi-Mensah, who heads the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Africa Network (ASMAN), believes a socially acceptable small-scale mining sector can be a tool for poverty reduction.
Amina Tahiru, small-scale miner and coordinator of women in mining at the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) urges miners to play a leading role in the sector reform. “We have to commit ourselves to responsible mining practices so we can have the respect of Ghanaian society. Many small-scale miners are already working hard to operate responsibly and we want many more to do the same.” She also mentions the difficult circumstances that women and children face in Ghana’s artisanal and small-scale mining sector.
However, Aubynn is under no illusions that changes can happen overnight. “We believe that this is possible. But we will need to shift policy and attitudes, as well as a great deal of collaboration and goodwill.”