A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, responsible for Mines, George Mireku Duker, has called on the entire citizenry, especially traditional leaders, to help fight against illegal mining to ensure responsible mining in the country.
The call comes on the back of reports of continuous illegal mining activities in some mining regions and districts of the country.
Mr Mireku Duker said government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, had taken the stand to collaborate with all stakeholders to combat the menace of illegality along waterbodies and in forest reserves.
He made the call during an engagement with the Eastern Regional Security Council (REGSEC), MMDAs and the 15 District Mining Committees yesterday.
The Deputy Minister further pointed out that the onus lies, not only on central government but, on all citizens and stakeholders, in protecting the water bodies and helping save Ghana’s future for posterity.
“If you protect the rivers in your community, you are not doing it for government but for yourselves, your children and Ghana’s future. So let’s solve this challenge dispassionately,” he urged.
He charged the traditional leaders, particularly the overloads, to be strict and ensure that their sub-chiefs abide by the laws, insisting that “those who do not go by the laws be de-stooled if necessary, to encourage vigilance and constant monitoring on the rivers that run through their lands”.
The Deputy Minister also cautioned the chiefs not to allow foreigners, particularly from the neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, to invade their communities and mine in the rivers.
“Ensure that all who engage in mining in your communities exercise due diligence. Among all others, ensure that concessions under your jurisdiction are a 100 metres area from the rivers just as the law stipulates,” he emphasised.
He said government would soon ensure that onlookers in mining communities, regardless of their status or position, are arrested for conniving in an illegal act.
He outlined a number of efforts government had put in place to safeguard the country’s water bodies for the future generation.
“Government has provided mercury-free mining equipment, 5 speed boats with navy personnel to constantly patrol the rivers, tracking devices with a control room to track excavators and other moving equipment are also in place. Operation Halt II is also being strictly enforced, among many other strategies government is embarking on to rid the country of this canker,” he stated.
He called for a unified and strengthened effort to address this challenge, stressing “political affiliations should not be considered in the efforts to protect our waterbodies with passion”.
He charged the MMDAs and security agencies to arrest miners or mining companies that take advantage of Community Mining Schemes (CMS) to mine illegally in communities, which have the CMS inaugurated and operationalised.
Responding to concerns raised by some of the MMDAs and Chiefs, the Deputy Minister assured that all their grievances have been duly noted and steps would be taken to mitigate them.
He further commended the stakeholders for their efforts and support so far, and assured that government will recognise and award those who engage in mining the right way.
“Government is not against mining and I can’t emphasise this enough…Because of this, we have instituted the Small Scale Mining Awards to endorse and encourage those who mine the right way and this year, somewhere in November, we will do this again,” he revealed
The Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Acheampong, explained the far reaching and devastating impact of illegal mining on the very lives of the citizens and on the socio-economic activities of the country.
“If care is not taken, Ghana will soon lose its relevance in the field of trade owing to the use of mercury in the rive bodies and impact on various foods, including cocoa,” he said.