The Small-scale Gold Mining Act of 1989 provided for the acquisition of small-scale mining licences by people who intended to go into artisanal mining.
The artisanal miners who lawfully went into the enterprise were in groups of up to about 10 people.They worked by hand to dig, pan and wash gold.
Those artisanal miners were males but in no time they were joined by other men, women and even children, who operated illegally.
What started with a few people, mostly in the southern part of the country, where gold deposits are substantial, is now inundated with countless number of people.
The illegal operators, locally referred to as galamseyers, see their activity, dubbed galamsey, as a source of livelihood.
Galamseyers choose to operate where they wish, digging pits, tunnels and sluices by hand.However, some of them now use machines and other equipment.
As already stated, there are economic benefits for the illegal miners but the effects of their activities on the Ghanaian society far outweigh any benefits.
They destroy large tracts of land and forests within a day, it is said.They destroy water bodies within hours. They have made drinking water clayey and arable land unfit for farming activities and since most of our people are into agriculture, what it means is that farming and production of food is being seriously threatened.
What is worse is that cocoa and other crop farms are destroyed without the farm owners getting compensation from anywhere.
Besides, some of these illegal miners invade pits abandoned by mining companies and they cave in on them, thereby the country loses human resources.
Upon assuming the reins of governance of the country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo waged a war on galamsey due to its negative or destructive impacts.
However, the fight seems to be failing or waning, making the people wonder what is actually happening in the world of galamsey.
The Ghanaian Times is happy that what the people wonder about has not escaped the prying eyes and open ears of those who are concerned about the future of the nation.
Last Friday, no less a personality than the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, called on the government to intensify its fight against illegal mining activities.
The Otumfuo said the fight was necessary to protect the country's water bodies and curb the current rate of the depletion of its forest reserves.
The traditional ruler added that the fight would also improve the benefits derived from the small-scale mining sector (obviously the regulated part) and reposition it as a major source of job creation.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu hit the nail on the head when he said illegal mining threatened the survival of the nation. He could not have made this point any better.
Every country needs water, forests and its land for its survival.Even advanced nations need land for industrial development and water in all their industrial activities.
For those of us in Ghana, where agriculture is still at the rudimentary level, arable land is crucial for food production.
Therefore, the Ghanaian Times joins Otumfuo Osei Tutu to appeal to the government to intensify the fight against galamsey now otherwise future Ghanaian generations would have survival problems with their environment and their very lives could be severely threatened.