Government will soon issue out a comprehensive roadmap that will permanently address the illegal mining phenomenon, also known as galamsey, in the country.
The roadmap, which will also see the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining, will involve the reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas; restoration of impacted water bodies; and the strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits.
Additionally, it will incorporate the establishment of a mercury pollution abatement project; implementation of alternative livelihood projects; systematic control of the engagement of excavators and changfans in mining areas; and the continued formalization and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.
The President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made these known in a keynote address delivered in Accra on Monday at a sensitization workshop for traditional and religious leaders, and other stakeholders on the elimination of illegal mining in Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo said it was the responsibility of the eminent Chiefs and Queen mothers, as it used to be, to continue to help preserve the country's lands, water bodies and environment. "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 jeopardizing both our present and our future. This cannot be over-emphasized," he stressed.
President Akufo-Addo commended the country's religious leaders, Chiefs and Queen mothers, for the immense support they had offered and continued to offer in the fight against galamsey.
He recalled his recent tour of the Western region where he said he was comforted by the strong remarks of support by the Chiefs he encountered and their attestation to the marked improvement in the vegetation and the quality of the water bodies in comparison to the situation a year ago.
The Chairperson of the Inter Ministerial Committee, Prof, Frimpong Boateng, who painted the gory picture of situation of galamsey and shared the concerns of the impact of the menace, urged the eminent Chiefs and Queen mothers to fashion out ways to complement Government efforts in the fight against illegal mining in the country.
Government, in dealing with the menace, set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee on illegal Mining, with the world-renowned scientist, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, as its chairperson.
The committee, as part of its work, recommended an initial 6-month ban on small scale mining activities, a request to which the President gave his assent. The ban has, since then, been extended.
Government, as part of the directives it gave to the Committee, was to carry out certain activities to bring sanity into the artisanal gold mining sector.
These, among other important directives, were the launch of Operation Vanguard, comprising officers and men from the Military and Police Service, tasked to prevent further pollution of water bodies and land degradation, the training of small-scale miners in sustainable mining methods at the George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, and the deployment of satellite imagery and drone technology to monitor the mining activities of illegal miners.
Currently, 600 miners have so far been trained while 1,500 miners are receiving training in sustainable mining practices.
Government has also ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the 40th State Party to have done so. 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.
The two-day sensitization workshop, therefore, brought together the President of National House of Chiefs, Chiefs and Queen mothers from the various regions, religious leaders, the Ministers of the Defence, Interior, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation, and other relevant stakeholders to conscientize and develop strategies that would support Government's effort in the fight against galamsey.
Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)