The Minerals Commission has reiterated it position that no company has been issued a licence to undertake reconnaissance, prospecting and exploration of minerals in any of the country’s Forest Reserves since March 2021.
Any company including Messrs. Koantwi Company Limited, which is engaged in mining in a portion of a Forest reserve, it said, was granted a mining lease and same ratified by Parliament as far back as September and December 2020 respectively.
This was contained in a statement signed and issued in Accra yesterday by Martin K. Ayisi, Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission.
Thereafter, it said the company was granted an approval for the issuance of a Forest Entry Permit to mine within a portion of the Forest Reserve, and not to undertake reconnaissance and prospecting.
The statement said the ban on reconnaissance, prospecting and exploration in Forest Reserves issued in 2021 by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor was still in force.
It explained that the government banned reconnaissance and prospecting in Forest Reserves, except in exceptional circumstances saying that environmental protocols for mining were more stringent than reconnaissance and prospecting.
“The ban was imposed because people acquired reconnaissance and/or prospecting licences and turned around to mine, causing extensive damage to the Forest,” it added.
The ban, however, the statement said, does not extend to mining or the actual extraction of minerals.
“It is public knowledge that part of the concessions of Newmont Ghana Limited, Chirano Gold Mines Ltd and Ghana Bauxite Company fall within Forest Reserves, and these companies have been mining in the forests, prior to, and after the imposition of the ban,” it stated.
The Commission, the statement said would continue to work with relevant stakeholders to implement government policies for the effective utilisation and management of the natural resources of the country, and particularly to fight illegal mining and its devastating consequences.
The statement was in response to a publication by the Member of Parliament of Tamale North Constituency, AlhassanSuhuyini, in respect of the issuance of a Forest Entry Permit to MessrsKoantwi Company Limited.
Earlier this month, MrSuhuyini, 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