Three Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs), with a focus on the mining sector, are accusing the government of granting permits to mining companies near the Mole National Park in the Savannah Region.
This appears to be in contradiction of a recently-issued ban on all prospecting activities in forest reserves.
The CSOs – Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis, Centre for Public Interest Law and the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining are therefore calling for the cessation of the issuance of licenses for such activities, including surface mining.
The Associate Executive Director of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining, Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, made the call as Ghana marked World Earth Day.
“Government has also granted mining exploration rights to a mining company to explore gold near the Mole National Park. The President has, among other things, stated that mining becomes a danger to society when the land is degraded after the minerals are extracted with toxic materials.”
“We, therefore, call on the government to halt attempts to mine forest reserves. Government should also place a moratorium on the granting of mining lease permits for all surface mining in Ghana.”
The government issued the directive on Thursday, ordering persons undertaking prospecting activities in forest reserves across the country to indefinitely suspend such activities.
It also directed the Minerals Commission to desist from processing or granting any request for the renewal of prospecting licenses in forest reserves.
“The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources hereby directs persons and/or companies engaged in reconnaissance and/or prospecting in Forest Reserves, with or without legal authorization, to suspend such activities until further notice…The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources has further directed the Minerals Commission, with immediate effect, not to accept, process and/or recommend the grant, including the renewal and/or extension, of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in Forest Reserves,” a statement from the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry said.
Government’s directive ridiculous – Inusah Fuseini
Former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fusieni, says prospecting in forest reserves is against the laws in Ghana.
For this reason, he believes the government’s new directive for companies engaged in such activities to suspend their operations “until further notice” is ridiculous.
Inusah Fusieni told Citi News, that the suggestion that prospecting licenses had been issued for entry into these reserves is indicative of the complicity of officialdom, which makes ensuring success in the fight against galamsey a near-impossibility.
He encouraged the sector minister to outrightly, and immediately, ban the practice.
“Prospecting in forest reserves is not permissible under the laws of Ghana. So to say that you have banned prospecting in forest reserves is ridiculous. You can’t even farm in a reserve, so how do you prospect in a reserve?”