Mining companies warned not to cause damage to environment

Tamale, Aug. 25, GNA – Companies engaged in the mining sector in the northern part of the country have been called upon to do the right things to ensure that their operations do not cause damage to the environment.

Mr Wilson Waanab Zoogah, Senior Principal Inspector of Mines at the Minerals Commission, who gave the call, urged the companies to strictly comply with the rules and regulations governing the mining sector in the country in line with government policy to promote responsible mining.

Mr Zoogah made the call at a workshop on the topic: “The State of Mining and Mining Prospects in Northern Ghana and the Lessons learnt so far”.

The partnerships and capacity building workshop on natural resource governance in northern Ghana was organised by the TAMA Foundation Universal, a national civil society think tank, based in Tamale, in partnership with the Ford Foundation.

The two-day workshop, which ended on Wednesday, was to provide a platform for civil society organisations (CSOs) to share experiences and strengthen their capacities in the extractive sector to enable them to play watchdog roles of ensuring that mining in the northern part of the country was beneficial to both investors and local communities.

Representatives of CSOs across the country including the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Third World Network, Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Oxfam in Ghana, WACAM amongst others, and the Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment of the University for Development Studies took part in the workshop.

In recent times, there has been increased gold mining and prospecting activities in the northern part of the country.

Statistics from the Minerals Commission show that currently, the government has granted 108 reconnaissance licenses, 162 prospecting licenses, five mining leases, and 24 restricted mining licenses for operations in the five regions in the north including 117 small-scale mining entities also operating in the area.

Whilst this could be a source of job creation for the people and revenue for the country, it also has implications for the environment, hence the workshop.

Mr Zoogah said while measures were in place to promote responsible mining, issues including pollution of water bodies, a threat to aquatic life, land degradation amongst others continued to be associated with the mining sector in the country, hence the call on the sector players in the northern part of the country to do the right things.

He said, “We collaborate with other relevant stakeholders such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Forestry Commission, Water Resources Commission amongst other institutions to ensure that they do the right things.”

He added that, “We have our regulators all over. The laws state that they are to ensure responsible mining. So, once they start operations, we have various regulations in terms of how they should operate with regard to the safety, technical and environment.”

He warned that the Minerals Commission would not hesitate to sanction any company found to engage in practices that do not correspond to the mining laws and regulations of the country.

Mr Benjamin Boakye, Executive Director of ACEP called for strategies to ensure that the country derived maximum benefits from the mining sector as well as empower the citizenry to play lead roles in the sector.

Mr Charles Abugre, Acting Board Chairman of TAMA Foundation Universal, said similar fora would be held for some community-based organisations to strengthen their capacity for advocacy at the local level to ensure that mining was beneficial to the local people.