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Mining operators ordered to submit quarterly reports on environmental quality

Social Epa Miners
Social Epa Miners

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered quarry companies in the Yilo and Lower Manya Krobo municipalities to provide it with quarterly updates on the quality of air, water, and noise in their operational areas.

The directive is in conformity with Part 1, Section (12)(1) of the EPA Act of 1994 (Act 190), which stipulates that quarry activities must not negatively impact the local environment.

Mr Isaac Arago, the Assistant Programmes Officer of the EPA Eastern Regional Office, gave this directive during a sensitisation workshop organised by the Eastern Regional Office of the Minerals Commission’s inspectorate division, in Bueyonye in the Yilo Krobo Municipality.

The workshop was on the topic: “Obligation of Mineral Rights holders on land ownership and environmental impact mitigation: What Landowners and Lawful occupiers need to know.”

Participants included representatives from both Yilo and Lower Manya Krobo municipalities, traditional councils, quarry corporations, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Police Service, and landowners’ associations.

Several topics were discussed, including the responsibilities of mineral rights holders regarding land ownership and environmental impact mitigation.

Mr Arago said to maintain the quality of noise, air, and water, all quarry activities should take place during the day, untarred roads should be watered regularly, and machines and equipment serviced frequently to prevent the emission of exhaust gas.

Again, quarry companies should keep a minimum distance of 100 metres from any nearby water body to prevent contamination and construct toilet facilities on the site to ensure good sanitation.

Mr Desmond Boahen, the Head of the Eastern Regional Office, Minerals Commission, said Section 108 of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703) prescribed fines for companies that violated regulations such as L.I.2182 (Health, Safety, and Technical) and L.I. 2177 (Explosives).

Section 108 (1) of the Act states that “a person found guilty of an offence under this Act for which a penalty has not been provided is, on summary conviction, convicted to a penalty of a fine not more than the cedi equivalent of USD five thousand.”

In cases where owners of the surface rights and mining rights were separate, the law allowed negotiation for compensation for damage to the surface rights owner, Mr Boahen said.

“Owning the land does not mean that you can extract the minerals beneath it…..Every mineral beneath the earth and in the sea has been entrusted to the President,” he said.

” Thus, a permit can be granted to a company to explore, extract, and sell minerals.”
However, some members of the landowners’ association reported that the owners of the mining rights who extracted limestone on their property had no such agreement or negotiation with the surface rights owners.

They said quarry companies’ operations had a negative impact on their farmland and houses, and that those injured by unannounced explosives had not been compensated as required by law over the years.

Mr Christian Hottor, Municipal Finance Officer for Yilo Krobo, advised the Minerals Commission and the EPA to work closely with the District Assemblies to carry out their respective mandates.

He said the issue of mining was of the utmost importance and required the cooperation of all stakeholders involved in the mining industry to achieve harmony.

“Let’s operate from the bottom to the top rather than from the top to the bottom, where the minister grants permission to the applicant before notices are given to the MMDAs and the community,” he said.

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