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Members of the Ashanti Regional branch of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) have threatened to embark on a nationwide demonstration in protest against attempts by the government to ban small-scale mining.
The miners are planning to adopt the “All-die-be-die” mantra, and defiantly pour out onto the streets on Tuesday, if the government does not explain its position on the ban on their activities as small-scale miners, contrary to those of illegal miners, who are polluting river bodies and farmlands.
Mr. Frank Osei, spokesman of the group, announced this at a press conference in Kumasi yesterday, that members of the association from across the nation were on standby to embark on the massive demonstration on Tuesday in Kumasi.
Spokesman Osei called on the President to be fair and honest in dealing with small-scale miners who had acquired their licences and concessions legally.
He said a wrong picture of the activities of the small-scale miners had been painted to confuse Ghanaians, and that they could not differentiate between their activities and that of illegal miners, who were obviously degrading the environment.
Mr. Osei explained that, as a requirement, small-scale miners were issued with licences upon proof that their activities were centred at 100 metres and above away from river bodies, and wondered why they were being lumped together with illegal miners.
The spokesman said the position of the government, regarding activities of small scale miners, had been wrongly interpreted to mean they were doing illegal mining.
The aggrieved small-scale miners are angered by the destruction of the excavators of some members of the group at Atiwa in the Eastern Region, and said the development was unfortunate, especially when the excavators were not in operation.
The group, therefore, wants the President to come out and state the government’s position on small-scale mining, and whether it is against it or not in three days, else they would damn the consequences and carry out their threat to hit the streets in protest.
“We are not illegal miners. We are small-scale miners, if not, we should be told to inform our next line of action, even at the peril of our lives,” Mr. Osei, on behalf of the group, dared the government.
The group admitted that they had created a mess in the past by not reclaiming mined lands, but said they had resolved to team up with the government to correct the mess, hence the formation of a task force to monitor activities of the group.
The association has asked that its members to be given the opportunity to go back to their businesses to save lives.
He said the ban on mining activities had affected the hospitality and mining industry, as well as the commercial and economic activities at mining sites and communities, and even contributed to the steady increase in unemployment, and appealed to the President and the government to consider their plea.
Mr. Osei announced the group’s readiness to cooperate with the government to contribute monitoring fees towards the reclamation of the lands, as well as provide logistics to farmers who want to till their mined lands.
Source: Sebastian R. Freiku || The Chronicle, Kumasi