The government has put in place policies and strategies to restructure the small-scale mining sector as part of measures to ensure responsible mining.
Mr. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources said this during the Brong Ahafo Region's branch of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) maiden award ceremony held in Sunyani.
Even though the Brong Ahafo Region has now been divided into three -- Bono, Ahafo and Bono East -- the association is still operating with the name of the old region.
He said mining, like any other economic activities in Ghana, was governed by laws and regulations. "We need to undertake the business of mining ethically, sustainably and responsibly, given its environmental and social impacts", he said.
The mining and quarry sector, according to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), accounted for 16.3% of domestic revenue in 2017.
Although mining continues to contribute to the country's development in terms of jobs creation, foreign exchange earnings, infrastructural development and tax revenues, it is important that these benefits are optimized since such resources will be depleted.
The Minister said measures introduced by the government include the development of a five-year Multi-sectorial Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) to restructure the ASM sector.
The MMIP is aimed to meet the increasing demands to reclaim and restore degraded lands as close as possible to their original statuses, as well as providing the knowledge and skills required to bridge the gap between damaged lands; and fully restore Ghana's ecosystems.
He added that the government was in the process of amending the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) to increase the penalties for illegal mining activities in the country.
"The new law expressly criminalizes aiding and abetting of illegal mining activities, the fabrication and use of the floating platform popularly known as "Chang-Fa" as well as the use of other equipment in water bodies. Rather lengthy prison terms are also made mandatory in addition to paying of stiff fines", he stated.
Speaking on the theme: "Promoting Responsible Mining; "The Role of the Media", the Minister observed that the fight against illegal mining was a shared responsibility. "We need all stakeholders to be on board; you as the media, Civil Society organization, and chiefs are key stakeholders, he said.
The Minister was emphatic that the government was not against mining but rather supported responsible mining that ensures sustainable development.