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SPEECH BY HON. NII OSAH MILLS ON THE COMMISSIONING OF SIGNAGES AT THE KOTOKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT- 10TH APRIL 2015

I am pleased to undertake this exercise today, concerning an issue that has been a challenge to my Ministry and the country at large. We are here today to unveil signages that will educate and sensitize people arriving in the country, on Ghana’s Mineral and Mining Law, Act 703 of 2006.

The signages are in three different languages, namely, English, Chinese and French. This exercise has been necessitated by the fact that some foreigners who are caught engaging in illegal mining activities explained that they were lured into it and cannot read and understand Ghana’s mining law, which is in the English. Mining, as you are no doubt aware, is one of the pillars of the Ghanaian economy. Currently, the mining sector contributes 27% of Government Revenue (Domestic Tax) and employs about 28,000 people in large scale mining and about 1 million in the small scale mining sector.

However, one of challenges of the sector, is environmental degradation. This is compounded by the activities of illegal mining known as (galamsey). Galamsey has devastating effects: pits dug by galamseyers are left uncovered and become death traps, mercury used in the extraction of gold is toxic, and when ingested could cause nervous breakdown in humans. Futhermore, water bodies are polluted by galamsey activities. Indeed, the scourge of galamsey has transformed our once clean Pra, Ankobra, Densu, Offin, and Black Volta rivers into heavily polluted and unsightly waters that can no longer either sustain aquatic life nor community livelihood In its bid to clamp down on galamsey activities, government has over the years taken a number of measures.

These include, reserving Small Scale Mining activities for only Ghanaians- The government opened this channel to only Ghanaians to give them the opportunity to engage in Small Scale Mining. In effect no foreigner has the right to carry out small scale mining, let alone galamsey, but it is no secret that non-Ghanaians are involved in illegal Small Scale mining. Secondly, Small Scale Mining Offices have been established across the country to provide extension services and education to prospective Ghanaian miners. Furthermore, there are alternative livelihood programmes such as provision of land and seedlings to people who are prepared to go into oil palm plantations. Opportunities also exist for those interested in snail and grass cutter rearing. In 2013, the government constituted the Presidential Task Force to flush out people engaged in galamsey. This made a lot of impact as many foreigners engaged in galamsey were arrested and deported. Ladies and gentlemen, all these measures notwithstanding, galamsey still remains a constant and serious threat to the country.

The signages being unveiled today are part of the measures being taken by my Ministry to curb galamsey. It is the hope of the Ministry that these signages, mounted at vantage points of the Airport-international arrival and departure, domestic waiting areas, the tunnel and a billboard outside the Airport, will adequately inform individuals arriving in the country on the country’s law on mining and the punishment for those who breach the law. This sensitization exercise will be replicated at all entry points of the country. Very soon the Mining law will be amended to enable government seize all equipment used in galamsey activities.

I would like to use this opportunity to appeal to traditional authorities, opinion leaders, the media and all and sundry to help in our bid to clamp down on galamsey. We owe this responsibility to God, ourselves and generations unborn. On behalf of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, I want to express my profound appreciation to the Management of Kotoka International Airport for permitting my ministry to mount these signages. I also wish to express my deep appreciation to the Chinese Ambassador for her help in translating the law into Chinese. Finally, our thanks go to the Ghana Chamber of Mines for helping to sponsor this project.

Thank you for your attention and God Bless