The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has welcomed the amended mining law, but with some reservations that it says must have been addressed before the president would assent to the bill.
The amended Minerals and Mining Act, 2015 (Act 900) and the Minerals Commission Act, 1993 (Act 450) will see persons culpable for illegal mining in Ghana, convicted to a minimum of 15 years and maximum of 25 years behind bars.
Aside the new minimum sentences, convictions for illegal mining may also attract minimum fines of 150,000 penalty units. It is also criminal to aid and abet illegal mining activities as well as the use of other equipment for mining in water bodies.
President Nana Akufo Addo told the Council of State at a meeting that, “we have also increased the punishment for foreigners who intervene illegally in this industry”, adding that, “we have had to take away some of the discretion of the judges largely because with the greatest of respect, they are not cooperating on these matters”.
But the GNASSM is of the view that, some interventions that were introduced by the government following the 22-month clamp down on illegal mining must have been followed through to the latter before the new law was passed.
Director of Research and Monitoring fo GNASSM, Rev. Mike Gizzo who spoke with Angel News on the development argued that, “hungry young people cannot be incarcerated for 15 years in their quest for a livelihood, when the government’s own Alternative Livelihood Programme and Community Mining Policy have not been stretched out to include all persons who were involved in galamsey before the ban”.
He advocated for the suspension of the new law until such a time that the two interventions have been fully implemented, so that “recalcitrant persons would be made to face the law”, whose effect he described as “akin to murder”.