A hectare of degraded land caused by the activities of illegal small-scale miners would cost the government GHc60,000 to restore it to the natural state, Mr John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has said.
He said so far, 238,000 kilometre square of the country’s lands had been degraded, which constituted four per cent of the country’s total surface area.
He said it would cost the nation millions of dollars to reclaim all the degraded lands across the country, adding that government was expecting financial support from the Australian, Chinese and Canadian governments to help the country raise the needed funds to undertake the reclamation.
Mr Amewu told journalists at Kyebi in the Eastern Region after inspecting some degraded mined sites, to acquaint himself with the extent of damage caused by illegal mining in the area.
The Minister, earlier launched Kyebi Reclamation Project at the Okyehene’s Palace, to restore 18 mined areas in Kyebi Township.
Mr Amewu said Cabinet had approved the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project, which would be rolled out in February next year.
The project would reclaim degraded lands, clean polluted water bodies and provide alternative livelihoods for artisanal small-scale miners aimed at ensuring sanity in the mining industry.
The Minister said government had extended the moratorium on small-scale mining for three extra months.
He noted that some recalcitrant illegal miners were secretly engaging in illegal mining in spite of the ban and, therefore, urged the Ghana National Small-scale Miners Association, Progressive Miners Association and other mining associations to report those who were still engaging in galamsey to the authorities for the necessary action to be taken against them.
Mr Amewu commended the Rebecca Akufo-Addo Foundation, Okyeman Foundation and Richie Foundation for volunteering to partner the government to reclaim the degraded lands.
He said government would welcome other private entities that would express interest to join the reclamation exercise.
The Minister said government would adopt multi-stakeholder approach in dealing with the galamsey menace and asked for support from all well-meaning Ghanaians to end the practice permanently.
Madam Perpetual Asante, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Rebecca Akufo-Addo Foundation, said the Foundation would mobilise at least 1,500 women in each region across the country to support the reclamation exercise.
She said combating illegal mining required collaborative efforts from all stakeholders and thus, pledged the Foundation’s unflinching support to eradicate galamsey.
In the last decade, Ghana witnessed massive destruction of her natural vegetation from the activities of illegal small-scale miners resulting in pollution of the water bodies.
The phenomenon attracted all manner of people into the country, including Chinese, Malians, Russians and Ukrainians who invaded the country’s forest reserves destroying the forest cover and polluted the major rivers.
Successive governments have tried various interventions to resolve the practice but to could not halt the menace.
The Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government, upon assumption of office in January, embarked on unrelenting campaign to halt the phenomenon once and for all.
Government placed a six-month moratorium on all activities of small-scale mining in March this year, and also deployed 400 joint military and police taskforce in July, to the Western, Eastern and Ashanti regions to enforce the ban.