Ministry Seeks To Confiscate Assets Of Illegal Miners

GalamseyThe Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) is to draft a law which will give legal backing to state agencies and officials, to confiscate assets used for illegal mining.

The move, is to clamp down on illegal mining, popular referred to as ‘galamsey’, which is fast destroying   the country’s arable land and water resources.

Nii Osah Mills, Minister of the ministry, who announced this during his maiden familiarisation visit to the Minerals Commission in Accra on Wednesday, said the current Minerals and Mining Act did not empower state agencies and officials to seize equipment used by illegal miners.

“I will expedite action for the law to confiscate assets of illegal miners, and I’m hopeful the law   will be passed before I complete my tenure as a MLNR,’’ he said.

Mr. Mills expressed regret about the continuous degradation of the country’s land and water resources, and said if drastic action was not taken on illegal mining, current and future generations would face serious environmental challenges.

“The  illegal miners indiscriminately use harmful chemicals such as mercury and cyanide which pollute the land and water bodies,’’ he said.

Mr. Mills called for the support of all stakeholders to ensure that the country wins the fight against illegal mining.

The Minister pledged his commitment to promote the lesser known minerals such as limestone and salt.

Particulary on salt, he said my “vision is to make the country a leading producer in the West Coast of Africa.’’

“I will work hard and collaborate with you (Minerals Commission) and other stakeholders to uplift the salt industry in Ghana to take its rightful place in Africa,’’ he said.

Against this backdrop,  he said, he would ensure that the  lingering issues such as ownership and land compensation,  which were affecting the development of the Songhor Salt Project at Ada were resolved,  to attract  foreign  investors  to the project.

He said the salt industry held a good prospect for the country and Ghana could make huge revenues from the sector and also create jobs for the teeming unemployed.

“Fortunately, Ghana and Senegal are the only countries in West Africa which have favourable conditions to produce salt,’’ Mr. Mills said.

Touching on the local content, he entreated the Minerals Commission to ensure that locals benefited a lot from mining contracts and also urged the Commission to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation roles to ensure that mining companies kept to their contracts.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Dr Toni Aubynn, who briefed the Minister about the mandate of the Commission,  expressed regret about the overly dependence on gold to the detriment other lesser known mineral resources.

He said the country could have averted the current economic challenges it was facing, if it had paid attention to the other mineral resources, saying, the “country has huge mineral resources such as iron and limestone for the production of cement.’’

Dr. Aubynn disclosed that the Commission had put in place strategies to enhance the process of the issuing of mining licences, to applicants.

By Kingsley Asare

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