Government on Thursday outlined the roadmap to permanently lift the artisanal small-scale mining in the country that involves reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas.
Other actions included the restoration of impacted water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits, continued formalisation and regulation of the small scale mining sector.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation; who announced this in Accra at a News briefing said the ban on illegal mining would be lifted at end the year.
The ban was to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of Mercury compounds caused by illegal mining, permanently eradicate unauthorised methods of small scale mining and to allow government to come out with measures that will address the illegal mining phenomenon.
As part of the measures, the Minister said at the end of August 2018, 3,000 small-scale miners would have completed training in sustainable mining and minerals processing practices at the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa.
Prof. Frimpong Boateng noted that there had been extensive public education of the dangers and effects of illegal mining and had devised extensive and intrusive monitoring mechanisms to make sure that after the ban was lifted, miners would not go back to the bad old ways to destroy the environment.
He stated that other road maps included; the use of satellite images and drones to monitor mining activities and the use of a computer software application called GalamSTOP.
Physically, he explained that there would be regular visits to mining concessions by inspectors and also integrate activities of regulatory agencies including; Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Water Resources Commission and Forestry Commission.
Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development noted that about 5,000 youth had expressed interest in various skills acquisition and as the first step government had put 500 of the youth into training.
She said the trainees who were undergoing through dressmaking, carpentry and masonry, were selected from 11 communities from the mining five regions.
Mr Obed Osei Boakye, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Small Scale Miners’ Association urged all members to adhere fully to the procedures, rules and regulations that would be outlined in the roadmap for the betterment of the country once the ban is lifted.“Coming into meeting we had the conviction that the government through the minister will announce the lifting of the ban today but it did not happen. We are very disappointed,” he said.
Mr Boakye advised all members to respect the rules and present their excavators and dredgers to the respective authorities to put the trackers on so that the ban would be lifted.
Mr Kwabena Emmanuel, a miner said, the country over the period of the ban had lost trillions of Cedis in the form of foreign exchange and called on government to as a matter of urgency lift the ban.