President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced plans for a comprehensive strategy to tackle the threat of illegal mining to the nation’s economy and the environment.
This, he said was going to address the vexed issue of the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining.
It would involve the reclamation and reforestation of mined-out areas, restoration of impacted water bodies and strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits.
Additionally, the road map would incorporate the establishment of a mercury pollution abatement project, the implementation of alternative livelihood projects, systematic control of the engagement of excavators and other ancillary contraptions in mining areas as well as the continued formalisation and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.
President Akufo-Addo made this known when he addressed a sensitisation workshop for traditional and religious leaders and stakeholders on the elimination of illegal mining in Ghana.
He indicated that when the ban on small scale mining was lifted, traditional rulers and opinion leaders “will have the responsibility, as was successfully discharged in the days of our forefathers, to continue to help preserve our lands, water bodies and environment”.
“We all have a duty to say no to galamsey (illegal gold mining) for our own common survival and the survival of those who are to come.
If we allow it, we are jeopardising both our present and our future. This cannot be over-emphasised.”
The President said because of the difficulties the nation had gone through in recent years, some persons had decided to find unorthodox means, including galamsey, of keeping body and soul together.
Thus, government as part of the fight against galamsey, set up at the level of the Cabinet, an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, which recommended an initial six-month ban on small scale mining activities.
It, (Government) directed the Committee to carry out certain activities to bring sanity into the artisanal gold mining sector, including the launching of Operation Vanguard, the training of small-scale miners in sustainable mining methods at the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa.
The Committee was also encouraged to have regular interactions with the Small-Scale Miners Association to craft a Code of Practice for small scale mining operations, and the formation of District Mining Committees against illegal mining with clearly defined terms of reference, and the deployment of satellite imagery and drone technology to monitor the mining activities of illegal miners, had been undertaken by the Committee.
These had led to marked improvement in the vegetation and the quality of water bodies.