Mr Asher Nkegbe, the Upper East Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has urged stakeholders in the mining sector to speak with one voice and ensure compliance to laid down regulations, to curtail problems.
“Let’s us speak with one voice and once we are ensuring that the law is complied with, following all the various regulations and everyone complying with his bit, whilst enforcement agencies also do their part of the job, then it will bring sanity in all undertakings of mining communities,” he advocated.
Mr Nkegbe made the call in an interview with the Ghana News agency on the license issuing system for both small scale and large-scale mining undertakings, and legal instruments for mining companies in the Upper East Region.
He stated that following the needed procedures in undertakings, it was important to take good care of the environment, to help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on environment which he noted was also related to every human activity, including education on environment and poverty.
Speaking on existing mining companies in the Upper East Region, he said the Earl International Group Gh. Gold Limited, a large-scale mining company, working in the Talensi District, had been in existence with license to operate from 2019 to 2033, and subject to renewals to produce in an area covering 16.02 km square.
He said Cardinal Resources, another large-scale company that was yet to do prospecting had undergone all scrutiny as well as YOUWERI Natural Resources, which is a small-scale mining company, to begin operations in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
He said before giving permits to mining companies, the EPA ensured they went through the needed licensing processes, be it small scale or large-scale mining.
“For small scale, the company must fill, sign and submit the small-scale mining (SMMI) form to specify the type of mining method to be deployed, processing method and proposed mitigation measures to address the disturbed sites and detailing reclamation and abandonment plans which must be properly costed.”
Mr Samuel Oteng, the Ashanti Regional Director of EPA, speaking at a forum said every small-scale production was specifically for local content and for only Ghanaians to operate on a land size not exceeding an area of 25 acres for the specified two years which was largely for surface mining and labor-intensive work and not to use intensive machinery.
According to him, all undertakings must be accompanied by a convincing Reclamation plan costed for EPA to be able to monitor the intended plan including a reclamation plan.
“Not just tree planting but restoring the land, and not just trees but the trees should be planted, and nurtured to grow,” he stated, and added, “reclamation plan should be properly followed.”
Apart from the permit, an Environmental schedule is a requirement that explains activities to be complied with, for instance not to mine 100 meters to a water resource, and the undertaker, failure to follow instructions makes its permit void.
The EPA was established in 1994, by ACT. 490, given regulatory powers under which Act came into force on Jan 1., 1995 with 19 functions to advise government on, coordinate and regulate all environment issues in Ghana.