Government has announced the lifting of the ban slapped on small-scale mining across the country.
Announcing this at a meeting with journalists in Accra on Thursday, the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, who is also Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, admitted that the latest decision will be met with mixed reactions by the Ghanaian populace.
“We can imagine that this decision to lift the ban will elicit varied responses from Ghanaians,” he surmised.
“There will be many who will say that the water bodies are still polluted and so the ban must be maintained. On the other hand, there will be those who will argue that hundreds if not millions of Ghanaians whose incomes are related to small-scale mining are under extreme pressure that they can no longer cope with the sustained ban.”
The ban was placed on all forms of small-scale mining – popularly known as galamsey – a few weeks after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo took office in 2017.
It was as a result of the degradation the mining activities were causing the environment especially the contamination of the country’s major water bodies.
The ban was, however, extended at least three times with the then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John-Peter Amewu leading the charge.
On Thursday, Prof Frimpong Boateng said several measures have been put in place as part of a roadmap to streamline activities in the sector.
He said a training for small-scale miners over the period of the ban was held at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa.
“So far, we have trained about 3,000 small-scale miners all at the expense of the government,” the renowned heart surgeon revealed.
He said a new integrated software application has also been built to coordinate efforts by the various stakeholders in the sector.
“So the Minerals Commission, EPA, Water Resources Commission, Forestry Commission, our MMDCEs will be integrated through this software application,” he said about GALAMSTOP.
Prof Frimpong Boateng said it will take a while for Ghanaians to see the vision President Akufo-Addo has for the mining sector especially preserving the environment and preventing diseases and deaths.
“A lot of damage had been done to the environment but he [the president] was of the conviction that if we did our work well, solutions will emerge that will be beneficial to other sectors of the economy.
“And by and large, we are on the path to achieving that.”