Government is making moves to offer alternative sources of income for illegal miners who have been out of work for some time now due to the ban on small-scale mining since March this year.
The government, through the Richie Plantations Limited, a firm that nurtures palm seedlings, has been supplying free palm seedlings to illegal miners and farmers for planting to make them financially self-reliant.
Madam Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, therefore urged illegal miners to take advantage and acquire lands for cultivation of palm plantations.
During a visit to Richie Plantations Limited Nursery Project at Dunkwa in Upper Denkyira East, in the Central Region, Madam Oteng-Gyasi, said government initiated the Multilateral Integrated Mining Project (MMIP) to offer alternative livelihoods for illegal miners and combat illegal mining, otherwise known as “galamsey”.
She said under the MMIP, artisanal miners would be empowered through employable skills to earn a living, saying; “Oil mills will be constructed under the MMIP for processing palm oil for export”.
Madam Oteng-Gyasi, also the Member of Parliament for Prestea Huni-Valley, therefore, encouraged miners, who had been out of work for the past nine months to participate in the Project since it had already started yielding positive results.
“In my district, Prestea Huni-Valley, we have such projects ongoing and farmers who are participating have really benefited and some of them have built modest houses from the proceeds of their farming, which is commendable,” she said.
The Deputy Minister said mining impacted directly on the host communities, therefore, a special assistance was required to improve the livelihoods of the people and minimise the negative impact of mining.
She said the Minerals Development Fund was initiated while a Minerals Development Act was enacted by parliament in 2016 to raise revenue from mineral royalties to support the development efforts of mining communities.
The Deputy Minister noted that, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources was undertaking measures to operationalise the legislation to ensure that the people in mining communities benefit.
She said mining projects would come to an end therefore residents in mining communities were supposed to have alternative livelihood projects to sustain them.
“So the Minerals Development Fund has come to stay to lift communities affected by mining from abject poverty and improve the livelihoods of all”.
Mr Richard Ekow Quansah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Richie Plantations Ltd, for his part, said the Company had employed 400 people out of which 150 were women, serving as helpers in mining sites and 10 artisanal miners.
He said it started operations in 2007 in Prestea Huni-Valley, in the Western Region, supplying palm seedlings to farmers free of charge with financial support from the HIPC Fund and later moved to Dunkwa-Anyanfuri in Upper Denkyira East of the Central Region.
He said it had targeted to nurse one million seedlings for distribution to farmers and indicated that the Company received three million Ghana Cedis from government this year to expand the nursery project.
Ghana has been devastated by the activities of illegal mining over the last decade, which has polluted water bodies and destroyed vegetation.
Government therefore launched the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project at the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, in August this year, to provide alternative livelihoods to artisanal miners and offer capacity-building for media practitioners and other stakeholders towards ending the menace of illegal mining.
The Government, members of the Media Coalition against Galamsey and other media practitioners, this year started waging war against the phenomenon.
The government initially placed a six-month ban on all forms of small-scale mining across the country and extended it by three months after expiry in October this year.
In addition, 400 joint military and police task force were deployed in July this year to Western, Eastern and Ashanti regions to enforce the moratorium.