A comprehensive roadmap will soon be outlined, targetted at lifting the ban on small-scale mining to deal with, on a permanent basis, the grave threat of illegal mining to the country’s present and future health.
The roadmap is expected to involve reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas; restoration of impacted water-bodies; and strict supervision of the processes in awarding mining licences and associated permits.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, speaking at the sensitisation workshop for traditional and religious leaders and stakeholders on the elimination of illegal mining in Accra, emphasised that the roadmap will incorporate the establishment of a mercury pollution abatement project; implementation of alternative livelihood projects; systematic control of engaging excavators and changfans in mining areas; and continued formalisation and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.
“When the ban is lifted you will have a responsibility, as was successfully discharged in the days of our forefathers, to continue helping preserve our lands, water-bodies and environment,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He said: “We all have a duty to say ‘no’ to galamsey 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”.
Recalling his remarks to the same gathering a year ago, the president acknowledged that because of the difficulties gone through by the nation in recent years, some people had decided to find unorthodox means, including galamsey, of keeping body and soul together.
In dealing with galamsey, the Akufo-Addo government set up at Cabinet-level an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, with world-renowned scientist Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng in the chair.
The Committee, at the commencement of its work, recommended an initial six-month ban on small scale mining activities – a request that was assented to by the president. The ban has since then been extended.
Government, the president said, gave directives for the Committee to carry out certain activities to bring sanity into the artisanal gold mining sector – including launching Operation Vanguard; training small-scale miners in sustainable mining methods at the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa; and regular interactions between the Inter-Ministerial Committee and Small-Scale Miners Association to craft a Code of Practice for small-scale mining operations.
President Akufo-Addo added that 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 have been undertaken by the Committee.
“Government also ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, as the 40th State Party. The objective of the Minamata Convention is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions, and releases of mercury and mercury compounds into the environment,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo expressed his and the nation’s appreciation to the country’s revered religious leaders and eminent Chiefs and Queenmothers for the support they have offered and continue to offer in the fight against galamsey.
“I was in the Western Region for a three-day tour a little over a week ago and I was comforted by the strong remarks of support by the chiefs I encountered, who attested to the marked improvement in the vegetation and quality of the water-bodies in comparison to the situation a year ago,” he added.
President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV, called on government to maintain the ban on illegal mining – adding that the harmful effect of galamsey requires that the ban be maintained until a lasting remedy is put into force. He stressed that the process of licencing miners should be reviewed.
He said: “The National House of Chief’s advice is that maintenance of the ban on illegal mining be continued until such a time that solutions are found to the harmful effects of this activity; and also until such time enough measures have been put in place in terms of monitoring and feedback that will ensure the dangers of illegal mining are minimised.
“Among others, again, is a suggestion that the state should include security agencies in the fight against illegal mining.
“Also important is the suggestion that the processes for licencing mining activities should be reviewed, such that only those who are qualified and have the capacity to observe the duties involved are allowed to mine.”
Government has placed a ban on small-scale mining to protect the country’s water-bodies and land from exhaustion/pollution.