The Media Coalition Against galamsey and OccupyGhana have called on Parliament to introduce a new legislation that inhibits mining in all forest reserves and biodiversity areas in the country.
In a joint press statement issued on November 17, 2023, the two groups demanded a proclamation of a law that forbade granting mining or drilling permits to any group to access any of these forest reserves and biodiversity areas.
They expressed deep concern over reports of mining rights being granted or recognized within the pristine Kakum Forest. However, the Minerals Commission confirmed the rejection of the High Street Company’s application but questions remain about the nature of the application and whether the company holds permits from other relevant authorities such as the Forestry Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The coalition emphasized the inadequacy of the current regulatory framework, pointing out to the undated letter from the Minerals Commission as a case in point.
“We have noted the Minerals Commission’s undated letter, which said that indeed they had received such an application but had rejected it. That Press Release did not say whether the application was for a reconnaissance or prospecting license or a mining lease, or whether this High Street Company had acquired other permits from either the Forestry Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
In a bold move, the two bodies have called for the immediate enactment of legislation specifically prohibiting mining and drilling activities within all forest reserves and significant biodiversity areas, contending that such legislation is necessary to prevent the recurrence of mining and drilling operations in areas designated for environmental preservation.
“We believe that Ghana needs a simple legislative fiat that says ‘WE DO NOT MINE OR DRILL IN OUR FOREST RESERVES.’ We therefore invite Parliament, as a matter of urgency, to pass an Act that forbids the grant of any mining or drilling permit, licence or lease or any other associated activities in all forest reserves and significant biodiversity areas”
The two groups called for the cancellation of the Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulations (LI 2462). According to the groups, the acts grants the President the authority to approve mining activities in globally significant biodiversity areas in the national interest—a power that they argue emboldened the recent application in the Kakum National Park.
“This would mean revoking the so-called Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulations (LI 2462), and the power it gives to the President to give written approval ‘to a mining company to undertake mining activity in a globally significant biodiversity area in the national interest, we believe that the sheer existence of this LI is what emboldened the current application.”
The two groups also recommended that a thorough process be inaugurated when deciding on the cessation of forest reserves and also demanded the express revocation of the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument (EI 144 of 2022), which purported to revoke the forest reserve status of the Achimota Forest.
“And to ensure that Government does not evade the aims of the proposed law by simply revoking the status of current forest reserves, we recommend that any decision on the cessation of forest reserves should be, first, on the advice of the Forestry Commission and Lands Commission, and, second, with the approval of Parliament after a public hearing and engagement with the chiefs and the people of the area in question. This would require the amendment of the Forest Act, 1927 (Cap 157) to take away the power of the President to do this simply by issuing an Executive Instrument.”
Below is the statement from OccupyGhana and Media Coalition Against Galamsey.
Story by: Nsoh Ezekiel | univers.ug.edu.gh