President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed that henceforth no mining concession or license should be granted to any applicant unless the paramount chief of the area is formally consulted to seek his input.
Additionally, the regional ministers and metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) of that particular jurisdiction should also be formally consulted to bring their views to bear on the granting of mining concessions to any individual or company.
In view of the President’s directive, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, has issued a Ministerial Fiat to the Minerals Commission to halt all processes leading to the recommendation for granting of mining concessions and licences until the Commission has sought the inputs of the authorities.
Mr Jinapor announced this at a media briefing in Accra on Thursday to update the public on new measures being implemented by the Government to combat illegal small-scale mining, otherwise known as “galamsey”.
The directive had become necessary to ensure the traditional and local authorities played a central role in the fight against illegal small-scale mining, which had wreaked havoc on the environment and water bodies.
When the President met the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi recently, the chiefs raised concerns about being sidelined in the issuance of mining licences and granting of concessions to individuals.
Therefore, whenever there was illegal mining within their traditional areas, they had no power to stop it because they did not play any meaningful part in the granting of the licences.
Mr Jinapor said with the enforcement of the Ministerial Fiat, traditional rulers and MMDCEs would play a central role in the fight against galamsey.
He highlighted a gamut of measures implemented by the Government to stop the galamsey menace; procurement of speed boats to patrol rivers, training of river guards, forest reserves declared as “red zones” for mining, and distribution of mercury free gold processing machines (gold kachas) to small-scale miners.
Others are collaboration between the Lands Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Office to prosecute illegal miners, both Ghanaians and foreigners; rolling out Community Mining Schemes for local people, recruitment and engagement of about 80,000 people for alternative livelihood programme, frequent operations by the military (Operation Halt) to mining sites to arrest and burn excavators belonging to illegal miners, and setting up 83 district mining committees to oversee mining at the district level.
Operation Halt II campaign has also been launched, spearheaded by the Military High Commands in the southern, middle and northern belts, which would be sustained until galamsey was brought to the minimal.
The government has, therefore, allocated significant funds and logistics to the new military operation, Mr Jinapor stated, and called for collaboration with stakeholders and a change of attitude by all to help fight the menace.
He said the media should constantly educate the public on the dangerous consequences of galamsey such as kidney diseases and buruli ulcers affecting inhabitants in the mining areas.
Mr Jinapor pledged the unflinching support of the President and the Ministry towards fighting the menace, with integrity and transparency without shielding anyone, irrespective of one’s political affiliation or standing in society.