Mr John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has said the Minerals Commission would engage the illegal miners and integrate them into the mainstream mining with proper mining practices.
He said the government under the five-year Multilateral Mining and Integrated Project would provide them alternative livelihoods to sustain and make them financially-independent.
Mr Amewu said this when he led a team to tour some mining sites in the Upper West Akyem Municipality, Atiwa East and Denkyemboar districts in the Eastern Region, on Wednesday.
The tour followed a three-week ultimatum the Minister gave to illegal miners to evacuate their machines and leave all mining sites. The ultimatum expired on Tuesday, April 18.
The team, comprising officials of the Minerals Commission as well as some police personnel, visited communities including Akenten, Pianaman, Moseaso and Kubriso.
The Minister said there were some licensed small-scale mining firms, which were involved in illicit mining.
He cautioned: ‘‘if you are given a licence to operate on a concession that does not allow you to mine in water bodies or destroy the environment without proper mechanism to reclaim the lands’’
Commenting on whether the fight against galamsey had been won after the expiration of the three weeks ultimatum, the Minister said it was too early to declare the battle had been won, adding ‘‘this is going to be a long-term and sustained project against the menace and I pray that all the stakeholders will join the fight for the next five years.’’
‘‘The NPP government is not against mining, but it must be done properly by strictly observing the rules and regulations in the industry.
‘‘For now, sanitising the system is very critical to us and government will crack the whip on anyone involved,’’ he stressed.
The Minister called on the Environmental Protection Agency to collaborate with the Minerals Commission in monitoring the various mining sites to ensure licensed mining firms reclaimed the lands concurrently while mining went on.
Some illegal miners who were working on some concessions left the site upon seeing the team.
There were excavators abandoned at the mining sites while others were parked in front of houses.