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General News
Minerals Commission Confirms Discovery Of Gold At Elmina 12/4/2011

The Minerals Commission has confirmed the discovery of gold at the Elmina Beach in the Central Region which has attracted thousands of people to the area to prospect for the mineral.

Even though authorities of the commission contend that the ounces which have been discovered so far are not in large quantities, illegal miners (galamsey operators) continue to inundate the area with the hope of making a fortune.

After conducting research, the geologists who had been dispatched to Elmina on Wednesday to verify the authenticity of the mineral find presented their report to the commission, whose Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Benjamin N.A. Aryee, stated that further investigations would be conducted into the source of the mineral.

At a news conference in Accra Thursday to respond to recent developments in the small-scale mining sub-sector, Mr Aryee warned of disastrous consequences for Elmina and other towns in the country that were home to illegal miners if the activities of illegal miners did not stop.

He stressed that the current situation at Elmina posed a threat to the Elmina Castle, the lagoon and the sea because the galamsey operators had turned the area into a beehive of activities.

Portuguese traders, led by Fernao Gomes, arrived in Elmina in 1471 and on arrival Gomes found a thriving gold trade already established between the local people and the Arab Berber tribes.

Gomes established his trading post and it became known to the Portuguese as ‘A Mina’, meaning ‘the mine’ because of the gold that could be found there.

Mr Aryee cautioned that the embankment of the sea which the illegal miners were operating could be seriously eroded, with its attendant health and environmental implications.

He said it was instructive to note that by Article 257(6) of the Constitution, every mineral in its natural state was by law vested in the President on behalf of the people of Ghana.

Therefore, he said, before any mineral could be explored or mined, the individual or company had to acquire a licence from the ministry responsible for mining and an environmental permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

However, the possible impact of the current operations includes shoreline degradation, exposing the land to sea invasion of the surrounding communities, and fishing, which is the main livelihood activity of these communities, will be threatened.

As a way forward, Mr Aryee said there was the need to urgently dialogue with all stakeholders to understand the impact of their operations on the environment and the community at large as a way of managing the activity.

The Minerals Commission, at a recent validation workshop to brainstorm, made recommendations to be incorporated in its master plan on how to minimise the impact of galamsey operations.

Meanwhile, galamsey operators at the Elmina Beach have been asked to suspend their activities for a three-day period to enable the Edina Traditional Council, the Central Regional Police Command and the Minerals Commission to fashion out an acceptable mode of mining for the benefit of all.

They have also been asked to maintain peace and order within the period in their own interest and in the interest of all stakeholders.

The Omanhen of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Conduah VI, gave the advice when he addressed a section of the operators who hit the streets of Elmina yesterday morning in protest against a directive from the Minerals Commission to bar them from engaging in illegal gold mining at the beach.

Following the discovery of gold along the beach about a week ago, a large number of people have thronged the area to prospect for the precious mineral.

The Minerals Commission, which visited the area and was said to have taken samples of the sand for tests to ascertain the claims of the gold find, was reported to have asked the operators to stop their activities while it carried out the tests.

Nana Conduah said he was meeting with officials of the Minerals Commission and the Central Regional Police Command to discuss all the issues.

He said it would be in the interest of all stakeholders to maintain the peace, law and order while discussions were held for the way forward.

He expressed the hope that a favourable decision would be arrived at to calm the nerves of the operators for their sustained livelihoods.

Nana Conduah said since the gold find was a resource that was vested in the state, there was the need to take the necessary steps to streamline the operations of the illegal miners to make them sustainable.

He said the police would undertake snap patrols of the area to ensure compliance.

A spokesman for the prospectors, Mr Paul Richmond Hayford, promised, on behalf of his colleagues, to abide by the advice and expressed the hope that the meeting would arrive at a decision that would enable them to go about their activities and create wealth for themselves and the community.

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