President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said even though mining can create jobs, wealth and improve livelihoods, it cannot be done at the expense of the very environment that produces these riches.
Mining in Ghana, the President indicated, had become a danger to the society because after extracting the gold, diamond and other minerals, the land is left degraded and poisoned with toxic minerals making water bodies unable to support life.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day National Consultative Dialogue on Small-scale mining in Accra on Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said mining in Ghana had become a danger to the society as “sites are abandoned, leaving behind creatures filled with mercury and other poison, which cannot support anymore farming or plant life.
He emphasised that there was nothing wrong with mining or exploiting the minerals deposited in the soil to develop the country, adding “a substantial part of the country’s revenue comes from mining.”
But mining, President Akufo-Addo explained, becomes problematic and dangerous when methods employ to extract the minerals cause danger to the land, the water bodies and the very lives of the people.
He said Ghanaians have to acknowledge that the country is not made up of only humans but also flora and fauna.
“Without them, we humans cannot and will not survive. We have to also acknowledge that the natural environment has its natural right to be here as we humans do.
“We must adapt to coexist in peace and harmony with nature. This is the time to help rejuvenate the land and take a careful look at how land is used,” he said.
The President said it was time the country revisited its farming practices and addressed the issues of illegal mining, known as “galamsey”.
He said certain occurrences have inspired his insistence on a National discourse on galamsey and urged the participants to collectively discuss and offer solutions devoid of political traditional inclinations for the betterment of the next generation.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor assured that the recommendations that would come out of the dialogue would be implemented after Cabinet had approved it.
The two-day National Consultative Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining brought together members of all the political parties, the Council of State, sector ministers, Parliamentary select committees, industry players, chiefs, regional ministers, Gold refineries, CSOs, bankers among others.
The conference would be used to solicit views, proposals, suggestions and recommendations from diverse stakeholders in the mining industry, to develop appropriate policy interventions and direction for the sector.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD