THE ASSOCIATION of Small Scale Miners, across the country, has threatened to hit the streets in mammoth demonstration against unfair victimization meted to them by government, next week Tuesday.
Prior to that, they have given a three-day ultimatum to government to set the records straight, in respect of the caliber of people and groups that have been banned from mining for gold in the country.
According to them, government’s decision to ban illegal mining also known as ‘galamsey’, has been clearly misinterpreted as the public have wrongly included small scale miners as part of the banned group.
“We are therefore giving the government three days to come out and state clearly that the Small Scale Miners, who have genuine license to operate, have not been banned from mining for gold”.
Frank Osei, acting Chairman of the Ashanti regional branch of the Association of Small Scale Miners, said his group members have suffered a lot since the government announced ban on illegal mining.
Speaking at a mammoth press conference in Kumasi on Thursday, he said the ban was imposed on illegal miners, but because it was not explained clearly, small scale miners have also been wrongly targeted by the public.
As a result of this misinterpretation, he bemoaned that some small scale miners, who are duly registered, have been violently attacked at the mining sites by people “even though we have legitimate license to operate”.
According to him, virtually all the small scale miners in the country have stopped working for about three months now since government banned illegal mining, because of the fear of being attacked by the public.
“This is not fair, we are not illegal miners. We operate based on strict mining laws in the state. In fact, we are not part of the people that government banned from mining for gold”, Mr. Osei said, with a grim face.
He said members of his association are suffering in terms of finances because they have not worked for three months now, among other pressing challenges, warning that they would demonstrate on Tuesday to announce their fury.
According to him, they would only stop their planned demonstration if government, within the next three days, comes out to state clearly that small scale miners, who pay taxes to the state, are not banned from operating.