The government, through a directive signed and issued by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abud Jinapor, has directed all persons and companies undertaking mining reconnaissance and prospecting in forest reserves across the country to indefinitely suspend such activities.
The Minister has further directed the Minerals Commission, with immediate effect, not to accept, process and/or recommend the grant, including renewal and/or extension, of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in forest reserves.
The directive, which was issued yesterday, added that the various regional security councils had been notified about the directive and are to strictly enforce it.
According to the directive, the Ministry realised that majority of companies who initially acquired their licences to undertake prospecting in the forests end up doing otherwise.
The directive said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources “has taken note of the unfortunate and unlawful practice of some persons and/or companies acquiring licences under the pretext of undertaking reconnaissance and/or prospecting in Forest Reserves and yet proceed to engage in illegal mining in such Forest Reserves, with its obvious adverse consequences on the environment.”
As a result of this, the Minister said, all activities and operations in respect of any reconnaissance and/or prospecting licences in forest reserves have been suspended until further notice. The companies engaged in such activities have been given seven days to stop their operations.
“The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, accordingly, hereby gives persons and/or companies engaged in reconnaissance and/or prospecting in Forest Reserves, seven (7) days from the date of the publication of this notice, to cease their operations and evacuate their equipment accordingly,” the directive stressed.
National consultative dialogue
The government last week held the National Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining held at the Accra International Conference Centre.
As part of the final communique, government was charged to take “steps to put in place systems that would rigidly apply the law, noting particularly the sanctions/penalties imposed by Act 995, to all those who infringe the law, irrespective of political colour or socio-economic status or class; indeed, the better placed in society and who ought to know better should have the most punitive of the penalties applied to them.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who opened the two-day forum, called on participants to discuss illegal small-scale mining devoid of partisan politics, narrow and parochial interests.
The President said it would require stakeholders in the small-scale mining industry to engage in honest and candid conversations to stem the tide of the menace of illegal small-scale mining, otherwise known as “galamsey”.
He said although mining creates jobs and improves livelihoods, it should not be done at the expense of damaging the environment.
“Ghana is not only made up of the people, but the soil, water bodies, valleys, mountains, forests, plants and animal life, without them, we will not survive, and requires our collective determination to protect them,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo underlined the need to engage in responsible and sustainable methods of mining capable of taking care of the forests, flora and animal life.
He reiterated his earlier stand to fight against ‘galamsey’ and deal decisively with anyone that engages in it, irrespective of his or her political affiliation and influence in society.
However, the President said he would not do so based on hearsay or mere allegations.
He pledged his government’s resolve to strictly implement the recommendations from the Consultative Dialogue for the benefit of the entire citizenry.
The Dialogue was on the theme “Sustainable Small-Scale Mining for National Development.”