Minister acknowledges devastating environmental effects of mining, but touts revenue from sector

Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, told journalists today that even though mining has devastating environmental impacts on the country, it yields appreciable levels of revenue to the country. He said the mining sector has so far generated GH¢1.3 billion as government revenue. The amount, he says, represents 17 per cent of total government revenue gathered for the year 2019 as collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority.

“This reflects an increase of 39 per cent in the sector’s contribution to government revenue relative to the GH¢980 million contributed in 2018,” he said.

Speaking to journalists at the Meet-the-Press event in Accra Wednesday September 11, 2019, Mr. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said an amount of $3.3 billion has been generated by the mining sector in 2019 as export earnings as compared to $3 billion generated over the same period in 2018, making mining a major forex earner for Ghana.

The Minister also stated that Ghanaian participation in the mining sector has been on the rise.

“In 2018, local procurement of goods accounted for 87.3 per cent ($1.4 billion) of total procurement in the mining sector. Whilst not resting these recent achievements, the Government in 2018, introduced a new category of services that will be provided solely by Ghanaians from mining communities,” he said.

According to the Minister, as at June 2019, a total of twenty five local companies have been registered by the Minerals Commission to provide these services. Opening up this space is expected to generate more employment and benefit to the local economy.

Asked about what impact local and international campaigns are having on the government’s decision to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest, the Minister citing the importance of the reserve and the fact that it is the source of drinking water to Accra and other areas of the country, said the forest won’t be destroyed.

“Mining will be done without destroying the trees,” he said, adding that sustainable systems of mining would be used. It’s not clear what that means.

The Atewa forest range forms part of the Guinea-Congolean forest stretch in the West African Region. But excessive land-use and land-use cover change including; agriculture and urbanization disrupted it over the last six decades.

The forest has unique flora and fauna and it is said to provide water to over five million Ghanaians. It is the headwater for three rivers in the country: they are the Densu which flows into the Weija Dam, the Ayensu and the Birim which also supplies water to the Pra river and flows to the Western Region where it enters the sea.

The forest also serves other spiritual and cultural concerns of some of the inhabitants surrounding it.

The ghana government, however, has announced it is giving out the forest to the Chinese to mine bauxite in return for a $2 billion financing facility.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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