The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, has said the ban on small-scale mining will not be lifted until polluted water bodies regain their quality.
"Today, I have seen the water in the Offin River and we cannot boast that there is a change in the quality.
The ban cannot be lifted when we can still not drink from this river,” he stated at Dunkwaw-On-Offin in the Upper Denkyira East municipality in the Central Region.
Mr Amewu made that statement when he paid a courtesy call on the Denkyira Traditional Council at Dunkwaw-On-Offin, where he launched the alternative livelihood project for the distribution of the first batch of two million seedlings to beneficiaries.
The minister’s declaration comes barely two weeks after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also indicated that a road map for the lifting of the 15-month long ban was being followed.
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President Akufo-Addo, while delivering the keynote address at the sensitisation workshop for traditional and religious leaders and stakeholders on the elimination of illegal mining on June 18, this year, assured that the government would soon put out a statement on the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining.
Mr Amewu stated, however, that the government had resolved to keep the ban in place since there was no much improvement in the water bodies polluted by illegal mining activities, also known as galamsey.
He added that the parochial interest of individuals could not be measured with the dire consequences illegal mining posed to the country for which reason the interest of the nation ought to be prioritised.
Mr Amewu urged small-scale miners to be patient with the government as it rolled out initiatives to sanitise the mining sector so that they could undertake sustainable mining.
He called on the chiefs and other stakeholders to support the government's effort to put an end to illegal mining to save the land and water resources.
Support by chiefs
The acting President of the Denkyira Traditional Council, Nana Agyei Nkyereh II, lauded efforts by the government to tackle the galamsey menace.
He said even though the moratorium on small-scale mining would be seen as depriving small-scale miners of their livelihood, it was a necessary step to regaining lost land and water resources.
In February 2017, 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, which was initially expected to be lifted by the end of October, last year, was extended by another three months.
Following that extension, the Small-Scale Miners Association of Ghana has on many occasions impressed on the government to lift the ban.
The government, however, indicated that it was rolling out the Multi-sectoral Integrated Mining Project (MMIP) and alternative livelihood projects after which the modalities for the lifting of the ban would be spelt out.