The national security strategy adopted to stop the illegal mining in rivers and forest reserves is undergoing revision.
The Minister of National Security, Albert Kan-Dapaah, who made this known to the Daily Graphic in an interview yesterday said it was imperative for the strategy to be revised considering the current spate of degradation of the country's resources through the activities of illegal miners.
“The strategy is under review because we need to find a more effective way of stopping the degradation,” the minister told Graphic Online on the sidelines of the second West Africa Mining Security (WAMS) Conference taking place in Accra.
The two-day WAMS conference, which ends today (Sept 29), is being hosted by the Australian High Commission in Accra, and has brought together academics, security practitioners and experts from the mining industry to discuss regional security trends, operational challenges, and to share current assessment of risk and mitigation strategies.
It is also to provide mining and exploration managers and security professionals with current information on development to inform security and investment decisions in West Africa.
Beyond that the conference is aimed at helping to examine evolving threats in the West Africa regional security environment, implications and challenges for mining companies.
Mr Kan-Dapaah said the mining sector was important for the development of the country and it, therefore, behoved all stakeholders in the industry to do their best to ensure that such a vital sector did not fall into wrong hands.
“A secure mining sector ultimately translates into a safe and secure nation,” he stated.
Throwing more light on the government's security strategy to weed out illegal miners and ensure that terrorist groups do not take over the mining sector, the minister said a document had been developed to guide national plans and actions to prevent, pre-empt and respond effectively to issues of terrorism and violent extremism.
He said the government also launched the national security strategy document in June 2021 to provide a coordinated framework of response to external, internal and emerging security threats that confronted the country.
The two documents, the National Security Minister explained, were consistent with the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism strategy which advocates the role of government and the role of societal approach in mitigating the threats of terrorism and violent extremism.
Mr Kan-Dapaah thus called for greater collaboration between stakeholders to ensure a safe mining industry.
“The role of the society approach which we continue to emphasise encourages the active involvement and participation of all stakeholders because it should not only be the state actors but we need the general public, the media, political leaders and civil society organisations,” he said.
The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Berenice Owen-Jones, said there were growing security and political challenges faced by mining companies operating in West Africa.
For example, she said in the Sahel region, terrorist groups affiliated with Islamic State and Al Qaeda continued to expand.
She said political instability and coups in the region during the past three years, had also created challenges for mining sector investment.
“Three years on, we continue to witness the growth of terrorism in the Sahel and its spillover, including into littoral states,” the Australian High Commissioner said.
She was optimistic that the conference would provide an opportunity to focus on security issues facing Australian and other international mining companies in West Africa to help in understanding the trends and directions for security and how it might impact on mining operations.
The conference, she said, was organised to also share information across government and the private sector on current threats and mitigation strategies and help to build contacts and networks in West Africa.
“The conference is timely, probably overdue in fact. Following the success of the inaugural WAMS Conference in 2019, the High Commission was planning to hold a second conference in June 2020 but COVID-19 intervened,” she said.
Ms Owen-Jones assured the gathering of the Australian government's commitment to continue its close relationship with all the relevant stakeholders around the critical issue of mining.