The Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Illegal Mining has resolved that all forms of mining activities will still not be permitted in forest reserves, unless in exceptional circumstances, while river-bodies also remain part of the Red Zones.
This means, “No mining operation is permitted in or around any river-body in the country, and reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration activities continue to be banned in Forest Reserves,” the committee indicated.
Also, it noted that ‘Operation Halt II’ will ramp up its support for the various measures being implemented to clamp down on illegal mining.
The enforcement efforts on illegal mining activities, according to the Committee, will be pursued relentlessly without regard to any political, social or economic standing of the persons involved. “This will be done transparently and with the highest standards of integrity, candour and utmost good faith,” it was added.
At a review meeting on the fight against illegal mining in the country, chaired by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Samuel A. Jinapor, it was decided that any equipment used in connection with illegal mining – or any product derived from illegal mining operations – will be seized and handed over to the police.
This is expected to be done per section 99 (8) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995).
Furthermore, it was concluded that: “Where for any reason a particular equipment cannot be moved from its location, the equipment will be demobilised and/or decommissioned to prevent it from being further used for the illegal operation”.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Police Service is expected to work closely with Operation Halt II – to among others aid in the prosecution of people involved in illegal mining, and the confiscation and forfeiture of seized equipment to the state.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission plan to intensify education on the dire consequences of illegal mining. The Committee further indicated their readiness to meet regularly to review measures being implemented and adopt additional ones where necessary.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources appealed to the general public, the media – and particularly chiefs and people of communities where these illegal operations take place, to assist government and the security services in this fight and safeguard the natural environment for posterity.
The meeting reviewed various steps and strategies being implemented to clamp down on illegal mining, particularly in forest reserves and river-bodies. In the end it was observed that despite the recalcitrance of some cartels involved in this illegal enterprise, lots of strides have been made.
Also, it was observed that despite the goodwill of some people who give information about illegal mining to aid the fight, others take to circulating old videos to foment public disaffection toward the fight against illegal mining.
The Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Illegal Mining comprised the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Office of the President in charge of Operations; two Deputy Ministers at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources; and a Deputy Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development.
Others include the Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources; Chief Executive Officers of the Minerals Commission and the Forestry Commission; Advisors on Mines and Forestry to the Minister; Technical Directors for Mining and Forestry; and representatives from the Ghana Armed Forces and Ghana Police Service.