General News Tue, 20 May 2003

Agric Stakeholders Forum Ends

Mrs. Cecilia Bannerman, the Minister of Mines, has said that only 13 percent of the country's area of 240,000 square kilometers had been allocated for mining purposes. This was contained in an address read for her by Dr. Majeed Haroun, Deputy Minister of Mines, at the close of a two-day forum for Agricultural Officers at the weekend.

Mrs. Bannerman said eight percent of the country's land is now under forest cover and that mining ventures into forest areas will touch only 0.1 per cent of all forestlands in the country. ''This is not to underplay the influence on the environment of mining operations. This means that mining can cause certain problems such as soil erosion, loss of important and rare fauna and flora and land sterilization.''

She said the understanding of the problem of land use and mining had led governments to develop legislations and institutional framework to ensure that mining was carried out in an environmentally acceptable manner.

Mrs. Bannerman cited some of the legislation and institutional framework as The Mining Regulations, The Mineral and Mining Law, Ghana's Mining and Environmental Guidelines and The Environmental Assessment Regulation.

She said Environmental Assessment Regulations allow the supervisory institutions to ensure that miners left the land in conformity with a checklist, that includes the re-stock of plantation areas with fast growing soil nutrient replacement plant species, inflow of fresh water, cultivation of cash crops and creation of favourable conditions for fauna.

She said that at Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) the checklists had been met in respect of disused lands with the reclamation of six waste pump and six pits and a total of 215.4 hectares of land.

Mrs. Bannerman said the company had also replanted 230,000 trees of various species including 800 economic trees and established farmer-assisted projects in alternative livelihoods such as oil palm plantations and food crop production.

She called on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), miners, government and communities to work together to avoid practices that could destroy forests permanently.

Source: GNA