Accra, Oct 15, GNA - Dr. Mathew Antwi, Deputy Minister of Environment and Science (MES), on Friday said the Ministry welcomed the role of the media and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in flagging negative developments in the mining sector.
Dr. Antwi said: "The Ministry of Environment and Mines is determined to take huge strides on the right path to ensure that poverty reduction strategy for Ghana is not jeopardised or compromised be an any exterior considerations harmful to the environment."
Dr. Antwi was addressing the opening of a forum on the "Impact of Mining and the Ghanaian Environment," organised by the MES and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in Accra. He said, the complex and sensitive nature of mining and environmental degradation and the quest for sustainable development had become a matter of global concern, and that of Ghana, as the industry continued to grow.
Dr. Antwi noted the competition of the large scale-mining concerns and with artisanal and illegal mining groups and corresponding devastation and degradation of the nation's land, forest and water resources has resulted in loss of habitat for flora and fauna, destruction of hills and water bodies.
He however, pointed out that the industry was not all that gloomy as it remained the number one foreign exchange earner and had contributed to the employment of thousands of people.
Dr. Antwi spoke of the recent demonstrations, protests and complaints from a cross-section of the society, including NGO's, Community Based Organisations and traditional authorities, and said the MES, through the Environmental Protection Agency had taken steps to regulate the mining sector with the Environmental Impact Assessment regime.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Alfred Salia Fawundu, in a statement read on his behalf by Madeleine Bolliger Klah, UNDP Programme Officer, said the challenge confronting mining now, after the 2002 Earth Summit, was how to minimise and manage the social costs in line with the principle of sustainable development.
"It is about striking a balance and organising ourselves in a way to met short and long-term objectives. It is about efficient planning and management, agreeing to common set of values that permits development and protection," Mr. Fawundu said.
He underlined responsible mining that respect the interests and values of the people and groups whose lifestyles might be affected and mining projects that fostered environmentally sustainable development of lasting benefits to all stakeholders.
Mr. Edward Baffoe-Bonnie, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mining, who chaired the opening ceremony called for circumspection for the harnessing of natural resources. 15 Oct 04