John Dramani Mahama (right), former President, addressing the participants in the dialogue on small-scale mining at Fiapre
John Dramani Mahama (right), former President, addressing the participants in the dialogue on small-scale mining at Fiapre
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We will restore galamsey lands, forests — Mahama

Former President John Dramani Mahama says he will establish a national joint action team on mining and forestry to restore degraded lands, rehabilitate impacted forests and clean polluted water bodies should he be elected again.

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He said the galamsey rehabilitation initiative would be implemented in collaboration with the Forestry Commission, the private sector and small-scale mining operators. The flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the 2024 presidential election was speaking at the third annual Transformational Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining on the theme: "Charting our country mining vision and the future of illegal mining” at the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) at Fiapre in the Bono Region yesterday.

Key proposals

The intervention is one of several proposals and initiatives the former President announced would be implemented if his party was elected into government in December, this year, to achieve a sustainable, responsible and prosperous small-scale mining sector.

Mr Mahama said the initiative would restore the environment and create thousands of jobs in the affected mining communities. He said the initiative would also work to convert impacted lands into commercial crop production zones for oil palm and rubber plantations, among others.

Mr Mahama explained that it would be funded through special fees from the Minerals Commission, contributions by the small-scale mining entities and interested plantation companies.

“I will launch #Atree4life project through which re-afforestation by young people in mining areas will become an economically engaging activity. They will supervise the growth of these economically viable tree crops,” he said.

Mr Mahama said through a water club and blue water initiative, the Water Resources Commission and the Ghana Water Company would partner their development partners to clean the impacted water bodies.

Destruction of cocoa

He said one of the impacts of illegal mining, popularly known as “galamsey”, had been the destruction of forests and cocoa farms. He pledged to work to protect cocoa farms from mining, and effectively ban the issuance of entry permits into forests.

The participants in the dialogue on small-scale mining at Fiapre

The participants in the dialogue on small-scale mining at Fiapre

Mr Mahama said he intended to have traditional leaders included in the crucial process of granting mining licences in their communities. He said he would strengthen regulatory institutions such as the Minerals Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Geological Survey Authority, and the Natural Resources University to that effect, explaining that the effort would involve laws, policies, regulatory enforcement and education.

Mr Mahama said the current government’s style of fighting galamsey had only helped to worsen the practice and led to a situation where some political actors and their task force teams profited from the arrangement.

Mr Mahama proposed the establishment of district mining offices in all mining areas in the country. He said the offices would be staffed by officers from the Minerals Commission, the EPA and other agencies.

Mr Mahama said those offices would usher in a new era of transparency and efficiency, streamlining the application process for mining licences and fostering hope and optimism among small-scale miners.

That, he said, would decentralise the licensing regime and increase the number of regulated small-scale mining companies and youth employment, particularly under the 24-hour economy policy.

Mr Mahama said his administration would actively involve mining engineers and graduates from the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) and UENR in the small-scale mining sector to create opportunities for them.

He said his government would introduce and encourage technological innovation to improve capacity for coordinated monitoring of the small-scale mining sector and reduce environmental impact.

“This will include using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to locate all small-scale mining and galamsey operations, track excavators and geo-fence all concessions to ensure mining operations were not conducted in unapproved areas, including water bodies,” he said.

Special fund

Mr Mahama said under his presidency, he would establish a special revolving fund where the private sector would provide a capital and equipment pool in each district where gold mining is prevalent.

That, he said, would facilitate easy and affordable access to relevant mining equipment. He said he would launch a Ghana Mining Excellence Centre (GMEC) to be run initially for five years and coordinated by UENR and UMaT to support those initiatives.

Law enforcement

Mr Mahama said combatting galamsey would require a multifaceted approach such as stricter enforcement of mining laws, increased investment in responsible mining technologies, and enhanced efforts to educate and empower small-scale miners to operate sustainably.

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Mr Mahama said he was committed to working with all stakeholders to chart a new vision for the country's mining industry, saying “we must ensure that Ghana's natural resources are managed to benefit all our people, not just a few”.

Writer's email: [email protected]

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