A member of the Social Support Foundation (SSF), a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Obuasi, Mr Louis Acheampong has stated that Ghanaian law criminalizes galamsey.
Mr. Acheampong made this statement in an interview with The Finder during the presentation of a report by the Human Rights Watch on ‘Child labour in artisanal small scale gold mining.’
He said, “In the past, it was this same artisanal small-scale gold mining that was going on, so in effect the practice is not illegal; it is the law that has made it illegal because the law has concentrated on formal mining.”
He added that since the formal miners have the mechanism and capital to operate, the laws tend to favour them at the expense of the small-scale miners.
Using Obuasi as an example, he said, “If AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) is given a concession of about 5km radius, then it covers the whole community, including your bedroom, which is wrong, but the laws we have has given them such concession.”
He also mentioned that fortunately for the people of Obuasi, AGA is going through a process called care and maintenance and they have planned to reduce their concession to about 60%.
He explained that this means the company will give the unused land back to the community and government; therefore, the artisanal miners will have a place to carry out their work.
Mr. Acheampong noted that a challenge they identified was the involvement of children at some of the galamsey sites, and this is because they cannot have access to formal credit and mechanisms to be able to carry out their activities.
He said some of them take informal loans, which come with very high interest and difficult repayment plan.
He also said another challenge facing them is that their work is sometimes interrupted by the formal workers, police-military raid and their site destroyed.
Mr. Acheampong said as an NGO, they have been working with the small-scale artisanal miners since 2004 to assist them to formalize and regularize their operations.
He said the miners have been able to group themselves to form co-operatives and businesses to access loans and also organize them for official operations when AGA finally releases the concessions.