Women small-scale miners, concessions owners, geologists, mining engineers, and surveyors will take centre stage in the 2022 Small-Scale Mining Awards, which will be held later this year, the Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources has said.
Mr George Mireku Duker, the Deputy Minister (MP) stated that not honouring women in the industry in the inaugural edition in 2021 was an oversight, adding that the creation of a category this year honours and recognizes the role of women in the field.
“It is an eye opener and an advantage to convey a signal that mining isn’t just for men, and it is sensible to encourage and empower women who are currently in the industry,” Mr Duker said on 9th September in Accra.
Mining is a vital contributor to Ghana’s economic development and a substantial source of foreign exchange. In 2020, the mining industry in Ghana contributed almost GHS 11 billion or around $1.8 billion, to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Although this was a drop from the previous two years, it marked a significant rise when compared to the other years analyzed.
According to the Minerals Commission, small-scale mining directly employs an estimated one million people and supports an additional 4.5 million. The sector’s gold production has continuously climbed throughout the years, hitting an all-time high of 2.13 million ounces (43% of national production) in 2018.
The development of human capital to drive the mining industry is so critical, and with females constituting 50.7% of Ghana’s population, the ‘woman’ factor cannot be overstated.
Women make up over half of the workforce in the sector, however, the majority of them work in informal mining. They make up approximately 6% of people engaged in regulated operations, so recognizing women in the sector will be critical in reviving the mining industry.
However, the lack of a National Policy to ensure that women participate in and benefit from the mining industry is a huge disadvantage, and state prizes like these strive to dispel that myth.
“Women are performing better and doing well in the industry, and we need to recognize that. We also need to recognize women who own concessions and mine in the small-scale architecture, and we need to communicate the message that women are becoming more responsible in the business,” Mr Duker hinted.
Though the minister could not immediately disclose the price for the category, he stated that he is confident that the judges will present a fair prize package.
“We’ve formed a jury, and they’re in charge of designing the rewards and deciding what’s appropriate.”
A category for an environmental stewardship miner will be added to the 2022 edition. The category will include miners who follow all of the guidelines in the Minamata Convention on Mercury to eliminate the presence of mercury and safeguard the environment while mining.
The sector is characterized by unsafe working conditions, pollution of water bodies, land degradation, and informal mining, and the government launched the Small-Scale Mining Awards in collaboration with the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners to ensure that miners engage in their activities responsibly.
Daakye Mining Enterprise was named the best small-scale miner overall in 2021 and got a “gold kacha” a mercury-free gold processing equipment worth GHS 120,000.00.
Other categories were the most promising small-scale miner and the best minerals commission district officer.
“The idea is that although we’re cracking down on illicit miners, we make the point that we’re also interested in promoting and encouraging responsible, environmentally sound, and lawful small-scale mining,” said Mr Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, minister of lands and natural resources.
The 2022 categories are;
Best Small-Scale Miner in Environmental Stewardship Best Female Small-Scale Miner Best Male Small-Scale Miner
Cooperate Social Responsibility’s Best Small-Scale Miner
Best Chief Executive of a Metropolitan, Municipal, or District Best Traditional Leader
Mr Godwin Armah, General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners, announced plans for the association to adopt the Birim River and clear it of illegal mining activities within a year.
“Our organization, in collaboration with the University of Mines and Technology, has adopted the Brim River, and by our next miners’ awareness week celebration, we should be able to demonstrate that we have worked to reduce the turbidity level of the Brim River to the bare minimum.”
Mr Duker also pledged to support the Ghana Association of Small-Scale Miners in their efforts to cleanse the Brim River of illicit miners on behalf of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
“We commend them and we will provide them with all of the resources they require to carry out their goals. We are pleased that the association has recognised that combating illegal marijuana requires a concerted effort. They are familiar with the illegal miners, which makes the government’s job easier,” Mr Duker concluded.
www.zamireports.com / Accra