Apply Principles That Deal With Destruction Of The Environment—WACAM

The Associate Director of WACAM, Hannah Owusu-Koranteng has called on stakeholders in the mining industry to apply principles that deal with the destruction of the environment.

According to Mrs Koranteng, there is no point in stressing on the irreversible damage that surface or strip mining has presented Ghana but to confront the issues as they are.

She was speaking at an event dubbed “Stakeholder Forum on the Campaign against Irresponsible Mining Activities in Ghana” organised by WACAM under the auspices of Tropenbos and Citi FM. It was on the theme; “Mobilizing National efforts for responsible mining.”

Stakeholders in the mining industry addressed challenges the sector has confronted Ghana with especially in regard to environmental effects which has destroyed water bodies and the forest cover.

“It is thus important to disaggregate the problems that mining present to be able to prescribe lasting antidotes to save our beloved country,” she said.

She noted that the focus of the forum is not to apportion blames but to work as Ghanaians to seek solutions that would be communicated to policy makers to enrich policy choices.

The forum according to her, aims at suggesting strategies for the implementation of best practices that Ghana has ratified and in some cases gazette to make them justifiable.

The view of her organisation, she explained is that mining issues constitute important issues that needs to be discussed in a frank and constructive manner.

“We hope the forum would make reference to special best practices including the polluter pays principle, the precautionary principles, the preventive principles and the fight to free, prior and informed consent of communities in the event of mining,” she said.

She commended government for the initiative to curb the menace of mining and added that the forum is being held at a time of growing national concern about the negative social, economic, cultural and environmental effects of mining in a period of the third mining boom.

“With the problems of mining, it is no more a contentious issue to state that we need to do a rethinking in our approach to mining investment” she said.

The Executive Director of Centre for Public Interest Law, Augustine Niber said that if Ghana wants to sustain the fight against irresponsible mining, we have to reform the mining related institutions and eliminate conflicting roles that have hindered their operation in most cases.

Regulators, he pointed out must be provided with the power to prosecute offenders in their enforcement of laws and regulation since under Act 703 as amended, the regulators do not have the power to prosecute unless under another authority.

“The institutions should be allowed to implement the laws and regulations governing the sector without fear or favour irrespective of who is involved and without reference from the powers that be if we want to put this issue of galamsey and irresponsible mining in this country to rest,” he said.

Persons in the regulatory institution, he explained must be equally sanctioned when they are involved in any act of impropriety, illegality and condone to perpetuations of illegality by any person or company.

On the issue of affected communities, he emphasized that such communities must be recognized, in that such communities would want to continue farming activities.

Alternative farmlands, he said must be provided for them to continue their farming as since such communities are deprived.

He called on the Minerals Commission, to make available strategic locations in host communities, basic information and details relating to companies and individuals who are granted licenses, such as type of licence, type of mining activity engaged in, area and duration covered.