The ban placed on all forms of small-scale mining in the country has been extended by three months, with a possibility to take it further until sanity is restored to the mining sector.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), Mr John Peter Amewu, who announced this last Friday, said the move was to totally clamp down on the activities of recalcitrant illegal miners in some parts of the country.
“We have had information that some of the illegal miners have started disturbing the Birim River again. As long as these illegal miners continue to disturb our land and water resources, they are denying small-scale miners the opportunity to work.
“All that I want to see is that the land is restored and the rivers are clean, so we look forward to that day when we can all drink from the Birim and other rivers again,” he stressed.
Earlier this year, the government imposed a six-month ban on all forms of small-scale mining in a bid to clamp down on the destructive activities of illegal miners.
The ban was expected to be lifted by the end of October this year, but even before its expiration, a group of small-scale miners in Kumasi had impressed on the government to lift the ban.
The group threatened to hit the road to compel the government to reverse the ban on small-scale mining, on the grounds that it was depriving them of their livelihood.
However, while touring some illegal mining sites earmarked for reclamation at Kyebi in the East Akim municipality in the Eastern Region, Mr Amewu stressed that no stone would be left unturned to sanitise the mining sector to restore the quality of the environment.
“We have communicated the Cabinet’s decision to extend the ban on small-scale mining to the operators in that sector and so they have to comply with it.
“I want to tell those guys who are still doing these unacceptable things to stop now before the law catches up with them,” he stressed.
Mr Amewu disclosed that the Cabinet had given approval for the Multi-sectorial Mining Integrated Plan (MMIP) to take off in the first quarter of 2018.
“Just yesterday (Thursday), the Cabinet gave approval for the MMIP and it is expected to be rolled out by February 2018.
“It is expected that the ban on small-scale mining will continue from now until the end of January next year, by which time an ad hoc committee that has been set up to look into the MMIP would have completed its work,” he said.
Mr Amewu stressed further that the government would continue to work with the security agencies and the traditional authorities to bring an end to illegal mining and open a new chapter on responsible mining.‘Be firm’
Meanwhile, the Okyenhene and President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, has directed chiefs in the region to be resolute in their stance against illegal mining.
He charged them to rise above monetary inducements and protect the quality of the environment.
Osagyefuo Ofori Panin urged the government to be strong and firm in its commitment to end the illegal mining menace.
“Many people claim that the youth are into illegal mining because of poverty, but we cannot use that as an excuse to destroy our environment,” he stressed, while reaffirming his commitment to support the government and the security agencies to deal with the situation.