Small scale miners are reluctant to sign onto government’s alternative livelihood program because they are not certain they would recoup lost investment under the program, Starr Business has gathered.
The program is mainly redirecting small scale miners into agricultural activities as the ban on mining is yet to be lifted.
But the miners say they are heavily indebted to banks; debts they are unable to pay if they should engage in other economic activity.
The Akufo-Addo government’s ban on small scale mining in its bid to clamp down on illegal mining has thus far resulted in the industry losing over $500 million, according to the Small Scale Mining Association since the inception of the ban.
The ban which was expected to be lifted by the end of October last year was extended prompting protest by the Small Scale Miners Association.
The ban, according to President Akufo-Addo, will soon be lifted when he addressed a sensitization workshop for traditional rulers and the clergy on illegal mining in Ghana, organized by the Ministry of Chieftaincy last month.
Shortly, he said the government will issue a statement “setting out a comprehensive roadmap including the lifting of the ban to deal on a permanent bases this threat to the present and future health of our nation.”
Describing their conditions as “sordid” on Morning Starr Tuesday, Kwaku Boakye, the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation with the Small Scala Miners Association said: “Somebody who has been able to purchase a machine worth $320.000.00, do you think it is easy for the person to divert his earnings or his money into farming, that is the alternative livelihood support which he can only get maybe a thousand plantations and then you tell him to go and plant now. When is the plantation going to be ready for harvesting? In two years? In three years?
“So is it going to depend solely on that alternative livelihood support? It is not easy for legal small scale miners to just adjust to the alternative livelihood support. Most of us are indebted…we have debt that we need to clear of which sums up to huge thousands of dollars, cedis running into millions of cedis and how can he [small scale miner] recoup that money when he goes into farming now?”
For him, the inability of government to give a clear timeline for lifting the ban on mining, is making it difficult for affected miners to plan their lives.