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General News of Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Source: GNA

Minister warns against environmental degradation

Accra, July 30, GNA - Mrs. Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines on Wednesday advised miners to follow the rules and regulations binding the mining activities in the country and desist from degrading the environment.

She said the illegal miners, especially were creating numerous environmental problems for the country, adding that their refusal to abide by these laid down rules would force government to enact legislations that would not be pleasant for them.

Mrs Bannerman, who paid her maiden visit to the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) to familiarize herself with its operations, said the dealers and miners had the duty to educate the illegal miners on the dangerous effects of their activities.

She said most of the dealers in diamond and gold bought their products from the illegal miners, adding, "we cannot afford to destroy our land in the name of mining."

Mrs. Bannerman said the time had come to educate the miners to be properly registered since mining was getting a bad name in the country. The Mines Minister, her Deputy, Dr. Abdel Majeed Haroun and the Chief Director were showed the various departments of the company by the Managing Director Mr Peter Boachie.

Mrs. Bannerman said government appreciated that people must be gainfully employed but in the case where they destroyed the environment to gain their daily bread was not in the country's interest.

At the gold storage department of the PMMC the Minister expressed concern about the thousands of Ghanaians in "galamsey" work that mainly use cyanide and mercury in their activities, adding that it was a dangerous practice.

Later at a meeting with the staff, the Minister said the ministry was looking forward to establishing a diamond cutting industry in the country that would help raise the production level of the PMMC.

Mrs. Bannerman noted that the production level of the PMMC was still low adding that in addition to the production of raw materials, there must be a service industry to help raise the value of the minerals.

She encouraged the workers to be enthusiastic about their work, adding "there is a lot of room for improvement hence the need for you to be creative."

The Minister said PMMC was the showpiece of the country and the workers must live up to that standard.

Dr. Haroun, Deputy Minister said for the industry to be sustained, there was the need for a new responsibility that would give a human face to the process of mining, adding that it would take a lot of awareness creation, monitoring and supervision to make an impact and called on all to get involved.

Mr. Kiston Kissi a miner and Member of Parliament for Akwatia noted that the Ghana Consolidated Diamond Company (GCD) that started mining about 70 years ago have failed to reclaim the land as was mandated. He said, apart from the miners, the GCD had a role to play to rectify the environmental degradation facing the country currently adding that it must live up to expectation.