24 August 2005

Ghana: We Need Land Use Management Plan -Joyce Aryee

Miss Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chamber of Mines has stated that no country can develop without a land use management plan.

This plan, she said, would help divide the land areas into management units and decide whether mining can be accommodated. It would also provide a rehabilitation plan for mined areas that would ensure that its future use and management would be compatible with that of the surrounding undisturbed area.

She added: "We are not saying there are no plans at all, but we have to make it clearer, so that we will be able to access minerals, control forest and mountains and regulate water bodies".

The CEO declared that Chamber of Mines' ultimate goal is to make the communities in which mining industries work "better places to live and do business."

Again, the chamber's aim is to be sensitive to the local community's socio-cultural and economic needs and endeavour and preserve the environment within which they operate, she stressed.

In this regard, the CEO said, "respect for human rights and good corporate citizenship principles lie at the heart of the mining industry's values."

Miss Joyce Aryee said since people are misinformed into believing only the bad side of mining, certain pressures are also made to bear on the mining industry.

"The necessary action that needs to be taken is to change this perception through proper education and discussions", she stated.

According to her, the mining industry recognizes that to minimize the social conflict associated with mining, it is necessary to involve inhabitants, be sensitive to the tradition and culture of the people and develop the communities into understanding what mining companies can do to manage the environment sustainably.

She declared that "without mining, modern economies could not exist". Citing this country as an example, she said it is important to note that Ghana as a nation cannot afford to do without mining inspite of the inconveniences that mining tends to create.

Currently less than two per cent of the entire land of Ghana is under active mining. Statistics available indicates that the total forest cover of the Western Region is 7,306 km2. Out of this, the forest cover in the mining areas of Tarkwa and Bibiani totals 1,036.6 km2, accounting for only 14% of total forest cover in the region.

Miss Joyce Aryee stated that in order to sustain its contribution to the development of Ghana, the mining industry is seriously addressing the key development of environmental questions, particularly the relationship of mining and metallurgy to sustainable development.

The CEO opined that landscapes could be turned to tourist attractions. She explained that some of the disturbed areas could be re-created and designed as tourist sites, as is the practice in most mining countries.

She said illegal operators (galamsey), apart from stealing gold, damage other environmentally sensitive installations, such as tailing dams, dangerous chemical containment areas and infrastructure.

She declared that "The upsurge in illegal mining which often spawns security and environmental implication for mining personnel and property have in the recent past badly dented the image of Ghana as a stable investment address"

However she said the chamber is not against small scale or artisinal mining, but believes that all potential miners should register with the Mineral Commission as the law on small-scale mining stipulates.

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