The European Union (EU) has commended the government, civil society organisations and the media for their roles in tackling the menace of illegal small-scale mining across the country.
William Hanna, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, who gave the commendation at the opening of a four-day Trainer of Trainers’ Workshop for geoscientists in Accra on Monday, said the EU was impressed with the commitment shown by these stakeholders in handling the issue, which was previously ignored.
Hanna, therefore, urged the government to ensure sustainable exploitation of the natural resources so that it would benefit the ordinary citizens.
He urged the government to ensure that the artisanal small-scale mining sector was properly regulated in order to create decent jobs and livelihoods for the miners and prosperity for all Ghanaians.
“We know that extractive resources, including oil, gas and minerals, affect the socio-economic conditions of countries, that represent half of the world’s population,” he said.
The training programme brought together about 40 geoscientists from Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia to share experiences regarding the exploitation of natural resources and come out with recommendations that would contribute significantly towards the governance of the extractives to enhance resource utilisation.
The training is being organised by the European Geological Surveys and Organisation of African Geological Surveys, under Work Package Three of Artisanal Small-scale Mining Training.
It is funded by the EU, through its Directorate-General for International Co-operation and Development, in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development of Canada.
It is aimed at improving and reinforcing geoscientific skills of African geoscientists, which would equip them with enhanced and relevant data and skills, to provide better services that would facilitate resource discovery and development.
The training would also equip them with the methods, tools, procedures and requirements for sustainable mining in their respective countries.
The three-year Pan-African programme is also intended to provide over 50 training sessions to 1,200 geologists from 54 African countries.
Hanna explained: “Some four billion people live today in countries whose economics have been shaped to a large extent by their natural resource endowments.
“Some countries have succeeded quite well in transforming their natural resources into assets for change.
“Unfortunately, for many others, abundance of natural resources has been a curse, while others have been able to translate natural wealth into economic and human development.
“Moreover, in conflict-affected countries, resource exploitation has fuelled instability.”
Hanna said those reasons provoked the EU to adopt an integrated approach to stop the profits from trading minerals to be used for fuelling conflicts and to promote due diligence in responsible sourcing through the adoption of the new EU Regulation on Conflict Minerals.
He explained that the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), was, therefore, launched with the view to remedy the lack of transparency in the governance of payments and revenues from extractive resources.
Additionally, he said, the EU legislation – the Accounting and Transparency Directive – adopted in June 2013, required the EU oil, gas, mining and timber companies to publish their payments to partner governments.
The EU Ambassador said that reporting of payments to government by the extractive industries would provide more information, thus enabling local authorities, communities and civil society organisations, to hold their government accountable for their use of these revenues and ensuring adequate consideration of the environmental and social costs.
Benito Owusu Bio, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, for his part, said the training would equip African geoscientists to provide services that would facilitate resource discoveries.
He said the training was critical as large masses on the continent were either under-explored or not explored at all.
The training package, he said, was expected to drive transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.
Owusu Bio stated that in view of the negative impacts of illegal mining, such as water pollution and land degradation of enormous proportions, the government was pursuing a programme known as the ‘Multilateral Mining Integrated Programme’ to streamline the sector for sustainable development.
Daniel Boamah, the Director of the Ghana Geological Survey Authority, said the training would afford participants the opportunity to renew contacts, discuss challenges of mutual interest and strategise proactive measures to resolve them.