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General News of Thursday, 13 May 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Government appointees engaged in illegal mining must face the highest sanctions – Ashanti Regional Minister

Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah has challenged government officials and appointees to as a matter of principle lead the government's renewed fight against illegal mining in the country.

Speaking at the first Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining held in Kumasi on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, the Regional Minister called for the highest form of sanctions against government officials who will be caught engaging in illegal mining which is threatening the survival of the nation’s forest reserves and river bodies.

“It is a collective responsibility for all of us to ensure that we win this fight. My colleague government appointees, we have to lead the fight and I think that any government appointee who is found engaging in illegal mining must be dealt with the highest level of sanctions. We cannot go against the principles of the president and we cannot go against the principles and policies of our government. If Osei Mensah is found, he should be named and shamed. If we take the lead, I am sure we will definitely succeed,” the Minister stated in his opening address.

The sector Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor on his part asserted the current situation of illegal mining and its effects present itself as an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary measures to deal with.

The Minister, therefore, reaffirmed the commitment of the government and the Ministry in rooting out the canker of illegal mining while making a call on other stakeholders to contribute to the fight.

“Humbly, I will like to submit strongly my take on the ongoing debate about the decommissioning and demobilization of excavators used for mining. When a country is confronted with extraordinary problems, extraordinary measures ought to be deployed. The use of excavators for mining on our river bodies is an extraordinary problem that requires extraordinary measures to deal with it.

On behalf of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and myself, I reiterate our unwavering commitment to getting on with this national crusade. Without fear or favour; blind to partisan colouration, blind to status in society and with absolute dedication. Together, with God on our side, we must and we will preserve our environment," the Minister said.

The overlord of the Ashanti Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu, who delivered the keynote address at the one-day forum, noted the devastating effects of illegal mining also known as galamsey and as well highlighted the need to ensure the practice of legal and safe mining which he said is a major contributor to national growth.

The Otumfuo thus presented a myriad of recommendations on how government can effectively combat galamsey.

“The Minerals Commission and in conjunction with the Geological Survey Authority should identify landmarks within the mining districts of the country exclusively for small-scale mining purposes. This should reduce the current competition between large scale and small-scale mining.

“The capacities of the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency should be adequately enhanced and adequate resources provided to enable them effectively regularize the activities of small-scale mining to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

“With the exception of properly designed alluvial mining operations, mining near rivers and water bodies should be banned. The use of mercury for gold processing should be banned given the toxicity to human health and the environment. This should then be replaced with training and capacity building for small scale miners on less dangerous means of gold recovery. Personal safety for small scale miners should be integral and encouraged.”

Government in its renewed fight against galamsey has declared water bodies and reserved forests across the country as red zones for mining activities.

In ensuring compliance with this declaration, a military operation dubbed Operation Halt is ongoing to decommission all mining activities in the red zone areas.

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