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CONVICTED ILLEGAL MINERS TO FACE AT LEAST 15 YEARS IN PRISON-PRESIDENT

President Nana Akufo-Addo has assented to an amendment to the country’s mining laws that will see convicted illegal miners facing at least 15 years in prison.

Speaking at a meeting with the Council of State, Nana Akufo-Addo said this development was a marker of his determination to fight illegal mining.

“It is was brought to me for my assent so it is now law. Parliament has amended the mining law and heightened considerably the penalties for engaging in illegal mining. We are talking about minimum sentences of 15 years, maximum 25 years. We have also increased punishment for foreigners who intervene in this industry.”

Aside from the new minimum sentences, convictions for illegal mining could attract minimum fines of 150,000 penalty units.


The new law also criminalises any aiding and abetting of illegal mining activities as well as the use of other equipment for mining in water bodies.

The Minerals and Mining Act, 2015 (Act 900) and the Minerals Commission Act, 1993 (Act 450) were the main enactments setting out the guidelines for mining in Ghana.

Before the 2019 amendment, the maximum jail term for engaging in illegal mining was five years.

The maximum jail term for foreigners in the previous incarnation of the law was 20 years. Ghanaians who engaged foreigners in this regard also faced jail terms between five and 10 years.

The government’s clampdown on the small-scale mining sector and illegal mining in 2017 saw hundreds of arrests.

This was part of the bid to reduce environmental degradation and sanitise the small-scale mining sector.

These actions by the state were accompanied by calls for harsher sentences for offenders to serve as a deterrent.

But during the clampdown on the sector, the government exhibited some leniency by introducing alternative livelihood programmes in 18 districts severely affected by illegal mining.

The programme engaged 500 small-scale miners and was coordinated by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining and implemented by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

“Offences and Penalties” of the ACT

(1) A person who buys or sells minerals without:a license in accordance with section 6, 82, 97 or 104; ora valid authority granted under this Act or any other enactment, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand penalty units and not more than fifteen thousand penalty units, and to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years.

(2) A person who:

without a licence granted by the Minister, undertakes a mining operationcontrary to a provision of this Act,acts or instigates, commands, counsels, procures, solicits, or in any mannerpurposely aids, facilitates, or encourages, or promotes any acts in contravention of a provision of this Act in respect of which a penalty has not specified, orcontracts a foreigner to provide mining support services commits an offence andis liable to summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand penalty units and not more than fifteen thousand penalty units, and to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years.

(3) A non-Ghanaian who undertakes a mining operation or facilitates the participation of any person in mining contrary to a provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable on a conviction to

(a) a fine of not less than one hundred thousand penalty units and not more than three hundred and fifty thousand penalty units, and

(b) a term of imprisonment of not less than twenty years and not more than twenty-five years; or

(c) both the fine and the term of imprisonment.

(4) Where a non-Ghanaian who is liable on summary conviction under subsection (3) is a person liable to deportation under section 35 of the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573), that foreigner shall, where sentenced to a term of imprisonment, serve the full sentence before deportation in accordance with subsection (3) of section 37 of Act 573.

(5) A Ghanaian who:

(a) permits a non- Ghanaian to undertake or to participate, or

(b) facilitates the participation of a non-Ghanaian,

in mining contrary to this Act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than thirty thousand penalty units and not more than one hundred thousand penalty units and to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years.

(6) A person who fabricates, manufactures or uses a floating platform or any other equipment for mining, dredging or any other mode of mining for the purpose of obtaining minerals in or along the banks of a natural water body including a river, a stream, a water course, the exclusive economic zone and any area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf of the Republic of Ghana commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty thousand penalty units and not more than one hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years or both the fine and the term of imprisonment.

(7) A person who provides of is involved in the provision of an excavator or any other equipment for mining operations contrary to a provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty thousand penalty units and not more than one hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years or both the fine and the term of imprisonment.

(8) Where a person is arrested for an offence under subsection (3), (5), (6) or (7), any equipment used in or associated with the commission of the offence and any product derived from the commission of the offence shall, without regard to the ownership of the equipment or the product, be seized and kept in the custody of the police.

(9) A court that convicts a person for any offence under subsection (2), (3), (5), (6) or (7) shall, in addition to the penalty that the court shall impose, order the forfeiture of any equipment or product seized under subsection (8) to the State.

(10) The Minister shall, within sixty days after the confiscation of the equipment or product, allocate the equipment or product to the appropriate State institution and publish in the Gazette the name of the State institution to which the equipment or product is allocated.

(11) In this section, “court” includes the Circuit Court.”

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