Pius Hadzide, the Deputy Information Minister, insists that the ban on small-scale mining was worthwhile despite reports of illegal mining still ongoing.
As recently as last week, 16 heavily armed Chinese illegal miners were arrested in the Krobo Forrest.
But Mr. Hadzide “the government is not against mining so we cannot ban mining ad infinitum.”
He noted that the environment may not be on the level of “the Garden of Eden” but gains had still been made with previous arrests and the seizure of equipment belonging to illegal miners.
“That equipment would have been still moving earth and digging the ground but for the ban and for the operation [by the anti-illegal mining task force] that was happening so there was a drastic reduction in the illegal activity.”
“The waterbodies may not have become as clean as we would have wanted them to be but everybody too will attest to the fact that the quality of the water has improved greatly,” the Deputy Minister added.
In addition, Mr. Hadzide pointed out that the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining was not going to compromise the government’s vigilance.
“We can still regulate mining, do it responsibly and not endanger the water bodies and the general ecosystem and that is what government has set out to do.”
In line with this, he said “several reforms” were happening at regulatory agencies and “even some legal reforms and being proposed for the consideration of Parliament.”
The government lifted the ban on all forms of small-scale mining effective Monday 17th December 2018 after nearly 20 months.
The government in June 2017 had initially imposed a six-month ban on small-scale mining as part of efforts to end illegal mining and its related activities, which adversely affected the environment, particularly water bodies and forest reserves.
The ban was extended several times until the Inter-Ministerial Committee on illegal mining announced on Friday that the ban had been lifted.
Small-scale miners who have successfully gone through the vetting process for their operations will be free to engage in mining activities.
The vetting process was part of the government’s efforts to ensure that the small-scale mining sector is sanitized amid the problem of illegal mining activities.
The vetting process was held within a two-week period from Monday, November 26, 2018, to December 7, 2018.