An estimated $250 million is required to reclaim lands and water bodies affected by illegal mining (galamsey) activities in the Western Region, the International Growth Centre (IGC) has said.
A study conducted by the IGC, an organisation that documents galamsey operations and their environmental impacts, said the amount was a testament to the massive destruction galamsey was causing to the environment.
Details of the study, which was disclosed at a public forum organised by the IGC in Accra last Tuesday, showed that illegal mining was undertaken in various forms.
It was on the theme: “The Footprints of Galamsey in Ghana: The Western Region under the Microscope.”
In a speech read on his behalf by a former Member of Parliament for Bantama, Mr Henry Kokofu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, said the ministry had instituted measures to curtail illegal small-scale mining activities, which includes the enforcement of laws and regulations guiding operations in the mining sector.
The minister stated that there would also be institutional collaboration among regulatory agencies, small-scale miners’ association, and civil society organisations (CSO’s) to drive sensitisation programmes against galamsey.
“Government is also considering the option of employing a software that is capable of tracking the movement of earth moving equipment used in illegal mining and the possibility of utilising drone technology to track the activities of illegal miners,” he said.
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The minister stated that other measures and interventions that would come out of the forum would go a long way to help cure the canker associated with the mining environment.
According to one of the researchers, Dr Jones Nantey of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the research showed that Ghana could import water in the near future if action is not taken to save the rivers from further pollution through illegal mining.
He lamented over situations where some farmers sold their farms for “small money” to illegal miners and said the practice denied such farmers their livelihoods in future.
Dr Nantey said apart from the fact that the people involved in galamsey were causing environmental hazard, the business was also having negative effects on the economy since the operators did not pay taxes to the government.
“If only we knew the kind of revenue this illegal people make. It is rather unfortunate they deal with the black market and don’t pay tax, which is another offence on its own”, he said.
The Chief of Sakubasi in the Eastern Region, Osabarima Asiedu Boafo II, charged the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and other stakeholders to combat illegal mining in the country to preserve land and water bodies for future generations.