Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Training Partnership with PanAfGeo

The IGF is partnering with PanAfGeo to deliver training to African governments on managing artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).

PanAfGeo plays an important role in increasing the geological knowledge of African countries and is focused on helping governments improve estimates of their national mineral reserves in order to have a clearer view of potential revenues and increase bargaining power with mining firms. It is a collaboration between the EuroGeoSurveys (EGS) and its counterpart in Africa, the Organisation of African Geological Surveys (OAGS).

 The IGF has provided financial support for PanAfGeo’s WP3 program, which aims to deliver seven regional training sessions in 2017–2019.

The first training session was held in Accra, Ghana. More than 40 representatives from Ghana and 11 representatives from the geological surveys in neighbouring countries attended the training.

The main aim of the workshop was to train staff from the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA), regulatory agencies and the universities involved in the ASM sector to strengthen their capacity to assist ASM operators in Ghana while providing regional perspectives. Particular emphasis was on how the knowledge and skills resources of the GGSA can be mobilized more actively in the service of ASM operators so as to ensure more profitable, efficient, environmentally friendly, safe and sustainable mining operations in Ghana.

ASM operations employ more than 1 million people in Ghana and provide a livelihood to approximately 4 million to 6 million. It is estimated that legal ASM accounts for more than one third of gold exports from Ghana, while the share provided by illegal ASM is unknown.

Ghana training group photo Sept 18 2017Thus, while legal ASM contributes significantly to Ghana’s GDP, illegal mining is a sustained and increasing cause of concern. In fact, what is referred to as “Galamsey,” is threatening to pollute and spoil vital water bodies and farmlands, thus putting the country’s economy and citizens’ livelihood and health at risk. Civil society organizations and top authorities in Ghana, including President Nana Akufo-Addo, have joined forces to fight “Galamsey.”

Yet, even legal miners rarely undertake sufficient pre-operation geological investigation, and miners tend to shy away from authorities and governmental scrutiny, knowing they will be called out as “scapegoats” or face repercussions in the event of unwanted mining footprints. Being a nonregulatory body, the GGSA could come to play a crucial role in helping legal ASM operators mine more efficiently and knowledgeably by way of knowledge transfer and on-site guidance. Because GGSA’s mandate is mainly geoscientific research/advisory, GGSA staff stand a better chance of “nudging” miners to optimize their operations in accordance with state-of-the-art methods, thus helping to bring the mining sector onto a less damaging track.

The training sought to lend geoscientific support to and empower GGSA staff to become crucial partners in improving mining operations in Ghana and to provide know-how to mining operators across Africa.

The training was organized jointly with GGSA with participants from national geological surveys in Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia and Nigeria. The WP3 training session in Ghana was provided by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and a number of local co-trainers from GGSA and the universities.