Ghana: Mineworkers fret over illegal mining threat
The union has warned the government to take immediate steps to stem the unlawful mining operations or face the wrath of its members, who have threatened a strike.
“Considering the dangers posed by this menace and the threat to the safety and security of our members, we, as a union, may be compelled at any stage to withdraw labour services to the industry if this situation persists,” the union’s general secretary, Prince William Ankrah, said at the GMWU executive council meeting.
He said the galamseyers – as illegal miners are known – have taken over some formal mining operations in areas such as Owere in Konongo, Meson in Bibiani and AngloGold Ashanti in Obuasi.
Violent clashes between illegal miners and AngloGold Ashanti staff early this year resulted in the death of one of the company’s top officials.
Concerns over expanded operations of the unlawful miners grew to an alarming proportion that AngloGold was forced to run to the International Court of Arbitration to seek redress.
“Today, water bodies which used to serve domestic purposes, are all polluted, lands are degraded and communities are displaced,” Ankrah told The Africa Report on Friday.
“The situation is alarming, it is scary for investors, and government loses revenue from taxes and royalties.
“Indeed, this enterprise has now reached a crescendo, forcing companies like AngloGold Ashanti to, out of desperation, file a suit against the government of Ghana at the International Court of Arbitration.
“Today, the safety and security of mining companies and our members cannot be guaranteed anymore, given the organised, sophisticated and aggressive nature of these galamsayers and their attacks on these concessions.
“Our cherished members are living and working in fear, not sure what the next headline story would be, sadly, these nefarious activities are carried out in the fullest glare of the powers that be, unfortunately with impunity.”
Ghana amended the Minerals and Mining Act, criminalising illegal small-scale mining, but Ankrah noted that “it appears to be the same government is emboldening the perpetuation of this illegality and this sounds quite worrying and disappointing to us, to say the least”. media search and download here
“It will be extremely difficult to bequeath anything meaningful to generations, yet unborn, if we continue on this indiscriminate tangent with impunity,” he said.
The union pleaded with the government to impartially enforce the law, considering the spate of destruction caused to the environment.