Ban to be lifted

Mr. Kweku Asomah-Cheremeh,Minister of Lands and Natural Resources

Mr. Kweku Asomah-Cheremeh,Minister of Lands and Natural Resources

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh says government will next week announce the lifting of the ban on small-scale and artisanal mining in the country.

According to him, all the necessary preparatory works had been completed and in line with the framework of the road map, government would lift the ban before the end of the year.

“It would be recalled that, on August, 16, 2018, the road map for lifting the ban on artisanal and small-scale mining operations was presented to the general public and the ministry will continue to work with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the road map is fully implemented, “ he said.

Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh who was taking his turn at  the Meet the Press Series organized by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday said in preparation towards the lifting of the ban, the Ministry was planning to roll out  the Multi-Sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) as its flagship project.

He said the project when implemented would regulate and assist artisanal and small-scale miners to improve efficiency of their operations and also ensure the use of appropriate, safe and affordable technology in small-scale mining.

In addition to that, the project would continue to develop alternative livelihoods projects in mining communities, train miners on sustainable mining practices and extraction processes as well as ensure that stakeholders enforce the law reserving small-scale mining for Ghanaians.

“In effect the MMIP will hinge on three main pillars namely: statutory enforcement, social interventions and technological adaptations,” he emphasized.

The Minister explained that even though the MMIP had not been rolled out, Sustainable Livelihood Programmes (SLP) were being carried out to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of mining on host communities in Dunkwa and its environs and protect the natural habitat from encroached on by illegal miners.

“A total of 7,667 acres of oil palm plantation was established in 2017. Also 1,442 farm families benefitted from the project in 2017,” he added.

Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh said in 2018, the programme targeted 450,000 oil palm seedlings to be supplied to beneficiary registered farmers and the output at the end of the programme was very encouraging.

He said the mining sector had witnessed a number of challenges most prominent among was illegal mining activities and its associated environmental implications.

“I must admit that the media had played a very significant role in our quest to reduce the menace of illegal mining. The collective and coordinated approach in the fight against illegal mining had improved some of our heavily polluted water bodies,” he added.

Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh said the Operation Vanguard since its establishment  had arrested 1,339 illegal miners, immobilized 614 excavators, seized and immobilized 1,557 water pumping machines, seized 84 vehicles and 84 motorcycles  as well as 5,739 ‘Chang Fan’ dredging equipment.

He said as part of measures to streamline small-scale mining activities in the country, the minerals Commission had undergone some institutional reforms and to this end government had facilitated the establishment of additional, regional, district and satellite offices of the commission to enhance visibility and monitoring of small scale mining activities.

Touching on the country’s forest resources, he said the forestry commission was combating the increasing spate of illegal logging and other activities in the country’s forest reserves and wildlife protected areas.

He said the commission had so far deployed 18 rapid response teams to hotspots of illegal activities in Forest districts and wildlife protected areas, stressing that “These are mobile units that have received military training and are arms-bearing teams within the Forestry Commission.

By Cliff Ekuful

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