Takoradi April 29, GNA - Madam Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Western Regional Minister on Thursday said the government is doing everything possible to ensure that mining companies reclaim lands to make them productive once more after exploitation of minerals.
She was speaking at a one-day workshop on small-scale mining in the Mpohor Wassa East district, organised by the District Assembly and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) for assembly members, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in Takoradi.
Madam Horner-Sam said the government through the Ghana Chamber of Mines is ensuring that mining companies assist communities in areas where they operate with development projects and help them to engage in alternative sources of livelihood.
She said these measures have been necessary, because minerals are not renewable resources and a time would come when they will be exhausted and all mining activities will automatically come to a stop. Madam Horner-Sam said small-scale mining, locally known as Galamsey has been in existence since time immemorial and the activities of small-scale miners predate those of the big and well-established companies.
"Therefore, the question of banning the activities of small scale-miners does not arise " adding that "on the other hand, we have to ensure that their activities are properly regulated so that the environment is protected", she said.
Madam Horner-Sam said, "The difference, however, between small-scale mining in our time and that of yesteryears was that, those involved in small-scale mining at the time were more circumspect than those operating the business now. In fact we seem to be heading towards a crisis situation, hence the need to hold such a forum".
Madam Horner said small-scale miners now seem to have only one objective and that is to make money at the expense of all other considerations.
She said now, mining activities are carried out at the most awkward of places such as school compounds, homes, railway-lines and at roadsides.
Madam Horner-Sam appealed to district assemblies to enforce their byelaws to ensure that both the people and the environment are protected.
She said it is generally known that in areas where Galamsey is practiced children do not go to school, because they are attracted by the prospects of making "quick money".
Madam Horner-Sam appealed to parents and guardians to endeavour to send their children to school and ensure that they stay in school because education is the key to development.
She said those who want to take up mining as their livelihood, have to acquire some level of education to enable them succeed in that venture.
In a welcome address, Mr Tawiah Amprofi, Mpohor Wassa East District Chief Executive, said the district assembly set up an environmental management committee in the last quarter of 2002 to look into small-scale mining activities in the district.
He said the committee decided to establish a core group called Joint Action for Small Scale Mining Activities in the Mpohor Wassa East District (JASSCAM), made up of representatives of the district assembly, Mines Department and small-scale miners to examine the problem of environmental degradation and come out with strategies to help the assembly to find lasting solution to the problem.
Mr Amprofi said The SNV through its programme dubbed "Support to Local Governance" volunteered to guide the process. He said the workshop is basically to discuss the findings of JASSCAM and offer participants the opportunity to bring out their inputs so that the problem could be solved holistically.