The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has said at least four percent of the country’ s total land surface of 238,000 sq. km. is “highly degraded” as a result of the illegal mining menace.
He said eight of the ten regions of Ghana have illegal mining activities ongoing, and it is posing national security threats to the country.
Answering questions in Parliament on the extent of damage the illegal mining menace has caused the country, Mr. Amewu named Bolgatanga, Wa, Bole, Berekum, Bibiani, Asankragwa, and Tarkwa as galamsey-prone areas in the country.
The rest of the areas considered galamsey-endemic are Dunkwa, Akwatia, Konongo, Tinga, Dormaa, Kenyase, Juaboso, Enchi, Wassa Akropong, Prestea, Daboase, Diaso, Manso Nkwanta, Obuasi, Assin Fosu, Akim Oda, Kwabeng and Nkawie.
Government in March, alarmed by the spate at which the illegal menace was devastating the environment, placed a six-month moratorium on all forms of small-scale mining to sanitise the sector.
Mr Amewu, on his latest visit to some galamsey sites at Diaso in the Central Region, hinted that government would extend the ban because it was not satisfied with the success it had chalked-up in the campaign against illegal mining.
His point was firmed up by President Akufo-Addo in the Upper West regional capital Wa, when he told religious leaders there that the fight against galamsey would continue unabated.
Government, Mr Amewu said, is mindful of the threat illegal mining activities pose to the country, but is overwhelmed by the extent of the menace.
He said it was in appreciation of the extent of damage that the ban was imposed to enable government streamline the activities and put in place a holistic framework to manage illegal mining activities.
“Within this framework, we expect that record-keeping and statistics will enable us to more accurately estimate the numbers relating to the extent of damage caused to the environment,” he said.
On some of the things being done to effectively curtail runaway galamsey, Mr. Amewu said the Minerals Commission is being completely restructured to ensure sustainability in managing the country’s mineral resources.
He mentioned the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) as one of the mechanisms it is adopting to encompass multi-stakeholders in dealing with the galamsey menace.
Mr. Amewu is of the expectation that when the MMIP is implemented the small-scale mining sector will be sanitised, reassuring of government’s commitment to that cause.