More and more people are getting into the illegal small scale mining in Ghana. Poverty and high unemployment rate has contributed immensely to this situation[1]. The unregistered miners fail to obtain licenses due to the high registration licensing cost and difficulty of the process. The government is however, obligated by various legislative instruments to ensure protection of environment through regulation of mining activities.

Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2002

The aim of the act is to amend the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 in order to provide for regulation on the manner of payment of royalties, confiscation of equipment used in illegal scale mining and for related matters. Section 25 provides that a mining lease holder or small scale mining lease shall pay royalties to the state at the prescribed rate in respect to the minerals. This provision places an obligation on the state to regulate individuals in small scale mining. Regulation of small scale mining is also provided under section 99(2) by criminalizing unlicensed small scale mining operations.

Section 99 of the same provides for offences and penalties related to mining. Sub-section (i) criminalizes the act of selling or buying of minerals without a valid license or lawful authority. The provision places certain obligation on the state to ensure criminalization of unlicensed mining through punishing the unlicensed buyers or sellers of minerals.

In breach of the above mining laws, one shall be found liable for summary conviction to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or both. This is the obligation to sanction breach of mining rules as imposed on the government.

The rationale for regulating individuals in small scale mining is to control the rapidly increasing number of people in the field.

Minerals and Mining (General) Regulations, 2012

This legislative instrument provides on general regulation of mining activities including recruitment and employment of individuals into the field, procurement of local products by a mine support service provider or holder of a mineral right or license to export or deal in minerals, application by a holder to export, sell or dispose of gold or other precious mineral among others. Regulation 24 obligates the holder of a small scale license as to when to commence mining operations, conduct operations in compliance with the approved mining plan, and comply with terms and conditions of the license and with the issued directives. This therefore, creates additional obligation on the government in regulating mining activities especially small scale.

Environment Protection Agency Act, 1994

The act aims to amend and consolidate law relating to environment protection, pesticide control and related purposes. Environmental protection extends to areas impacted by mining activities. The act establishes the Environmental Protection Agency which is to operate as a body corporate. One of the functions of the agency includes control or prevention of discharge of waste into the environment and protection and improvement of the quality of the environment.

This function in relation to mining areas is an obligation to monitor compliance with mining regulations by the actors in the mining activities. This is to ensure protection and preservation of environment. In addition, the Act imposes an obligation to protect the environment in mining communities. [2]The agency is responsible for conducting inspection the mining site.

Forest Commission Act, 1999 and Forest Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002

The Act establishes a Forest commission. The commission shall be a body corporate. The purpose and objectives of the commission shall include regulation of the utilization of forest and wildlife resources, the conservation and management of those resources and the co-ordination of policies related to them.

The amended Forest protection act outlines what consists of forest offences and the penalty to be faced in commission or omission of such offences. The two provisions play a role in obligating the state to enforce compliance with environmental protection laws.


[1]

[2] Kwadwo Afriyie et all, (2016); The Good in Evil: a discourse analysis of the galamsey industry in Ghana, Oxford Development studies, DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2016.1217984

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