We’ve not given licence to any company to prospect for minerals in Forest Reserves – Minerals C’ssion

Not a single prospecting licence has been granted any company to prospect for minerals in the country’s Forest Reserves since March 2021, the Minerals Commission has said.

According to the Commission, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel AbdulaiJinapor was yet to approve any licence for such operation since assuming office.

A statement signed and issued by the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission in Accra yesterday, said, that any publication that seeks to suggest that the Minister had granted a company prospecting licence to undertake exploration activities in Forest Reserves was false and should be disregarded.

It, therefore, asked persons with evidence of such licences to produce it.

“Since assuming office as Minister for Lands and Natural Resources on 5th March, 2021, MrJinapor has not granted a single prospecting licence to any company to. 

Any publication that says otherwise is false and should be disregarded by the public. Any person with a copy of any such licence should produce same,” the statement added.

Contrary to allegations of some companies being granted prospecting licences to operation in forest reserves, it said, Vimetco Ghana Bauxite Ltd had not been granted prospecting licence by the Minister. 

In the case of Akonta Mining Ltd., the statement Company had applied for a prospecting licence which was yet to be processed by the Minerals Commission, it stated.

The company, the statement said, also applied for a Forest Entry Permit to enter the TanoNimiri Forest Reserve. 

It noted that by a letter dated August 8, 2022, the Forestry Commission wrote to the Minerals Commission indicating that although it had, in principle, no objection to the company’s application, the application must be processed “subject to the Honourable Minister of Lands and Natural Resources’ directive on mining in Forest Reserve.”

According to the Minerals Commission, the Forestry Commission’s letter does not constitute a Forest Entry Permit nor a prospecting licence. 

“The Minerals Commission is, by law, mandated to make recommendations to the Minister for the grant of any mineral right. 

The Commission will not make any recommendation that contravenes government policies, including the ban on reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration in Forest Reserves,” the statement noted.

The statement was in response to a publication by the Member of Parliament (MP) of Tamale North Constituency, AlhassanSuhuyini, who alleged that despite the ban on prospecting in Forest Reserves, the Minister had granted 25 prospecting licences for prospecting in forest reserves to a number of companies.

According to him, what was worrying was the fact that many of the mining companies granted the license were destructively prospecting in many of the country’s forests and called on the Minister to act immediately.

“It is shocking that a Minister who promised to protect the country’s forests Nicodemusly issues licenses to companies to destroy the country’s forests.

The Minister on countless occasions reiterated that no mining will be tolerated in forest reserves. Indeed he on such occasions assured that culprits will be dealt with without favor and that fresh permits/license will not and should not be issued for reconnaissance, prospecting and or mining in forest reserves,” Mr Suhuyini added.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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