An Eight-Member Steering Committee for the Kyebi Reclamation Project has been inaugurated by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) to supervise the recovery of degraded lands and cleanse mercury in water bodies caused by illegal miners.
Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of the MLNR, who administered the Oath of Office and Secrecy at a ceremony in Accra, on Monday, said the Committee had been tasked to certify lands that were safe for reclamation in Kyebi area through scientific soil testing.
He said: ‘This is a pilot scheme we’re rolling out and the success of the project is going to help us roll out the nationwide programme, and also copy it as the best practice for reclamation’.
The Deputy Minister said the Committee was supposed to help in the introduction of economic trees and crops at the reclaimed areas and selection of agencies to replant the trees, as well as ensuring the overall coordination and harmony of all stakeholders in implementing the objectives of the project.
Mr Owusu-Bio, also a Member of Parliament for Atwima Nwabiagya North in the Ashanti Region, expressed confidence in the abilities of the members of the Committee to execute their mandate professionally, and ensure the success of the project.
He said the Committee was supposed to undertake a research of the degraded areas to establish the extent of damage and contamination of water bodies and soil with heavy metals, especially mercury.
He noted that Kyebi was selected for the pilot project based on the severity of illegal mining in the area so as to avoid potential health hazards, and not because the place was the President’s hometown.
The Kyebi Reclamation Project, which would serve as a pilot programme, is chaired by Barima Yentumi Boaman, a representative of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council and co-chaired by Madam Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, a Deputy Minister of the MLNR in charge of Mining.
The rest are Mr Johan Zietsman, of the Eco-Sika Ghana Limited Gold Recovery, Mr Ransford Sekyi, of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr Isaac Bonsu Karikari, of the MLNR, Dr. Norris Hammah, the Administrator of the Minerals Development Fund, Mr Obiri-Yeboah Twumasi, of the Minerals Commission and Mr Patrick Amoatia, of the MLNR.
Barima Boaman, on behalf of the members of the Committee, expressed appreciation to the government for the confidence reposed in them, and gave the assurance that they would work assiduously to deliver on their mandate.
He said the Committee would work diligently to complete their mandate and asked for the support of all stakeholders to ensure success of the project.
Professor Patrick Agbesinyale, the Chief Director of the MLNR, said the pilot project was an important experiment because it would help the Ministry to appreciate the best model to implement across the country.
‘We want to see how the cleaning of the environment in terms of the chemicals, replanting and greening of the area and, therefore, every step along the way would be a learning process for us.
‘Let’s hope that you’ll do a good job so that the branding of Kyebi as the ‘Theatre of galamsey in Ghana’ will be replaced with a very good model,’ he stated.
It is estimated that US$100 million dollars would be expended nationwide for the reclamation of the degraded mined areas in the next five years under the Multi-sectoral Integrated Mining Project.