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Government embarks on reclamation of degraded lands destroyed by illegal mining

BY: Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu
Media men on the banks of River Ankobra, one of the polluted river bodies. Picture: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu
Media men on the banks of River Ankobra, one of the polluted river bodies. Picture: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu

The government has started the process of reclaiming an estimated 1.5 per cent of the country’s land surface which has allegedly been degraded by illegal mining and other bad environmental activities.

The country’s land space is estimated at about 238,000 squre kilometers. Out of this, between 50,000 and 60,000sq km, representing 1.5 per cent, is reportedly degraded by either illegal mining or other unhealthy environmental practices.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, who announced this, said work had already started on the reclamation exercise by the levelling of the land in the degraded areas.

He said part of the excavated soil had been used to fill some of the pits.

“We will also ensure that some of the pits with large volume of water are pumped out, filled and covered with top soil to restore the green vegetation,” the minister stated.

Integrated mining

Mr Amewu explained that the entire programme was to prepare the ground for a multilateral mining project.

“Our aim is to ensure that people who wish to mine carry out their activities with the greatest respect for the environment – river bodies and the forest.

“Mining on rivers, digging of riverbeds and degrading the environment is criminal and punishable by law; and the laws will be applied with appropriate sanctions,” he indicated.

According to the minister, the level of degradation would require millions of cedis to reclaim and restore the lost vegetation to the sites. 

Concession

Mr Amewu further stated that “some mining firms are relinquishing portions of their concession to government to be given to small-scale miners.”

He cited a case in which “Anglogold Ashanti has already allocated 60 per cent of their concession; we are holding on to all this which will eventually be allocated under the project.” 

“The ministry is in discussion with some small-scale licence holders in our attempt to regroup them,” the minister said.