President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday gave assent to the amended Minerals and Mining Act that seeks to deter and prescribes stiffer punishment for people engaged in illegal mining.
The new law enhances the penalties for illegal mining activities, otherwise known as Galamsey, and explicitly criminalises any aiding and abetting of illegal mining activities, as well as the use of other equipment for mining in water bodies.
It has also increased the punishment for foreigners who intervene illegally in the mining industry, imposing a minimum sentence of 15 years and maximum of 25 years for illegal mining, with a minimum fine of 150,000 penalty units.
In an interaction with members of the Council of State at the Jubilee House in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said the law also took away the discretionary power of judges, whose judgments were not deterrent enough to stop illegal mining.
The meeting with the Council is a quarterly arrangement agreed when the Council met the president earlier in the year, to enable the Council of State to hold brief with the President on pertinent issues and the decisions of the body.
The President told the Council that his assenting to the law was “another important step we’ve taken in this fight against galamsey.”
“The law was brought to me yesterday for my assent so it is now law,” he said. The President added that the law had to take away some of the discretion of judges whose judgements were not deterrent enough to stop illegal mining.
This, he said, was “largely because, with the greatest of respect, they are not cooperating on these matters. People are caught, if you go ask, they’re taken to court, granted bail. And then at the end of the day they disappear.
“All these Chinese people are caught, they’ve been put to the court, granted bail, you don’t hear of it again only to hear that they have resurfaced in the country.
“So, we felt it was important to take over the discretion of the judges. It is unfortunate that that should be so because all of us should be able to trust the judges also to do their bit in stamping out crimes and its consequences in our society,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo said it was unfortunate that that should be so “because all of us should be able to trust the Judges also to do their bit in stamping out crimes and its consequences in our society.”
The President held that there was the need to strengthen institutional arrangements because “many of these things that are happening are a result of delinquency on the part of the State itself.“
He cited the recent banking crisis, which he said, was as a result of the negligence of the Bank of Ghana, adding,” it is imperative that a common meeting ground was reached on the matter.”
The Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 900) and the Minerals Commission Act, 1993 (Act 450) are the main enactments setting out the guidelines for mining in Ghana.
The chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Siriboe on his part, commended the President for the hard work done to host the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana.
He outlined the activities of the Council, which includes, meeting with the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) relating to vigilantism and how they could collaborate to step it down, and presented a copy of the Council’s deliberations to the President.