2 Companies issued with permits to mine in forest reserves 

Two of the six mining companies issued with forest entry permits are currently involved in mining activities in forest reserves in the country, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has disclosed.

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He said although the six companies had been issued with forest entry permits, only Chirano Gold Mines and Koantwi Mining Co. Ltd were actually involved in mining.

The minister indicated that the other four companies — CIMAF Ghana Ltd, Kingsperp Mining Ltd, Onex International Co. Ltd and Trans-Atlantic Logistics Ltd — were at various stages of acquiring authorisation to commence their mining operations.

Mr Jinapor made this known on the floor of Parliament yesterday in response to a question on what the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry was doing to protect forest reserves from illegal mining activities.

Details

Providing further details on the companies, the minister said Chirano Gold Mines Ltd had its permit renewed in 2019 after a previous permit granted in 2004 expired.

Mr Jinapor stated that the permits for the other four companies were all granted in 2020. 

However, CIMAF Ghana Ltd’s permit was granted in 2018 and expired in 2021, saying “the permit is, thus, no longer in force.”

Stopping illegal mining

Mr Jinapor stressed that the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry and the Forestry Commission would go all out to clamp down on all illegal mining activities in forest reserves.

“Several persons who mined illegally in forest reserves have been arrested and are currently standing trial. The most recent ones include six people arrested in the Tano Suraw Extension Forest Reserve in November 2022; two people arrested in the Upper Wassaw Forest Reserve in November, 2022; three Chinese nationals arrested in the Oda River and Apamprama Forest Reserve in January 2023, with 26 persons arrested this month for their alleged involvement in illegal mining around the Atewa Range Forest Reserve," Mr Jinapor said.

The minister stressed that those measures, together with several others that were being taken against illegal mining, were yielding some results, with some river bodies visibly getting clear.

Assurance

Mr Jinapor assured Ghanaians that the ministry would work with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the sustainable management of the country’s forest reserves. 

He said given the crucial role forest reserves played in the conservation of biodiversity and addressing the global climate crisis, the mining laws which prohibited mining in forest reserves would be strictly enforced to protect the integrity of the natural resource. 

Suspension

To protect the country’s forests from mining activities, the ministry suspended reconnaissance, prospecting and exploration activities in forest reserves, "except in exceptional circumstances”, Mr Jinapor explained.

He added that the Forestry Commission had rolled out many interventions to protect the ecological integrity of the forests.

“Among the measures are regular patrolling of the forest reserves, protection and maintenance of internal and external boundaries of forest reserves, awareness creation and stakeholder sensitisation, as well as decommissioning and demobilisation of equipment used for illegalities in the forest reserves,” the Lands and Natural Resources Minister said.

Other measures are the destruction of illegal farms, arrest and prosecution of forest offenders as well as wildfire prevention, control and suppression interventions, he said.

Mr Jinapor also stated that the tree-planting exercises being undertaken through the Green Ghana programme was meant to restore portions of forest reserves that had been affected by deforestation.

Public lands

Answering questions on the protection of public lands, he said the Lands Ministry was working in collaboration with the Lands Commission to undertake an inventory of public lands, including those that had been encroached upon, to ensure maximum protection. 

Mr Jinapor said the ministry had also constituted a public lands protection team to support the efforts of the Lands Commission and the Ghana Police Service.

"We are also engaging ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to take steps to protect lands acquired for their use, or that fall within the jurisdiction of the assemblies," the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources said. 

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