Mr Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has called on mining companies, especially the large-scaled ones, to be more responsible in their operations to ensure their activities bring optimal benefits to the people.
He said the mining companies must, at all times, ensure they conformed to the environmental and socially acceptable rules to minimise the impact of their operations on the environment.
Mr Jinapor made the call while addressing a conference in Tamale on irrigation and agricultural development, organised by the West African Centre for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) of the University for Development Studies (UDS).
The two-day conference, on the theme: “Mining, Water Resources Management and Environmental Sustainability in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges”, created a platform for the exchange of ideas and knowledge among stakeholders for the development of the irrigated agriculture sub-sector.
It brought together practitioners, academics, researchers, policymakers, civil society, community and traditional leaders, farmers, agricultural extension agents, irrigation consultants, technical experts, and students.
Whilst mining is important for national development, the extraction of minerals comes with some negative social, economic and environmental impacts such as human rights abuses, social vices, deforestation, environmental, land, and forest degradation, health risks, and destruction of viable farmlands, hence the Minister’s call for responsible mining.
Mr Jinapor pledged government’s commitment to implementing appropriate regulatory, legal, fiscal, and environmental policies “to build a responsible, viable, sustainable and environmentally-sound mining industry anchored on integrity, transparency and good governance to bring maximum benefits to the people.
He said to that effect, “Government is prioritising the resourcing and retooling of the Minerals Commission and repositioning it to perform its functions effectively.”
He said the operations of the Commission had been decentralised by the opening of more regional and district offices with adequate staffing to ensure they delivered on their mandate.
“As part of measures to clamp down on illegal mining activities that have the greatest impact on our water bodies and natural environment, we have enacted the Minerals and Mining (Mineral Operations – Tracking of Earth Moving and Mining Equipment) Regulations, 2020 (L.I. 2404), to track all earthmoving and mining equipment to know in real time, where each machine is, and what it is being used for,” Mr Jinapor said.
He said the Ministry was also working with the Office of the Attorney-General to amend the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) to expressly prohibit the manufacture, sale, supply and use of the floating device, “changfans”, mostly used for illegal mining in the country.
The Government had launched a National Reclamation Programme to reclaim all degraded mined lands and return them to viable agricultural lands, add green cover and provide employment and income for local communities, he said.
Mrs Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, in a speech read on her behalf, said mining operations must be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure the future generation also benefited from the country’s mineral resources.
Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, the Vice-Chancellor of UDS, touched on the contribution of the University to improving irrigation agriculture and said WACWISA had been at the forefront at delivering the requisite training to stakeholders for improved agricultural production.
The UDS established the Centre in 2019 as a semi-autonomous centre of excellence to undertake cutting-edge research and training in irrigation, drainage, water resources management, sustainable agriculture, climate change and food and nutrition security.