A Deputy Minister-designate of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr George Mireku Duker, has said there is nothing wrong with mining in the country’s forest reserves.
He said there was no law that prevented mining in the forests and that the law even allowed for mining in selected forest reserves.
Appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, he said, “In 1900, we had about eight million hectares of forest cover and out of that, we gazetted 1.6 million hectares and that is what we have been protecting.
“The remaining are for development purposes like farming and so on. So we need to see how we can take advantage of the opportunities from these reserves.
“Mining prudently in forest reserves that are dedicated for development is not against the law. The onus is on us to ensure that we have a legislative framework that will guide mining processes and make sure we mine professionally.”
When asked if he supported mining in the forest, he said, “It depends on the area dedicated for the purpose. If the area is earmarked for mining, there is nothing wrong with it.”
Creating artificial forests
Mr Duker said the country could look at the possibility of creating artificial forests to make up for the depletion of the forest reserves.
“My concern is how we can also look at creating artificial forests,” he stated.
He said the country could designate specific areas and turn them into artificial forests.
Ratification of mining concessions
The deputy minister-designate said when approved, he would assist his minister to ensure that all large mining concessions were ratified by Parliament before they started operations.
Article 268 of the 1992 Constitution compels all mining concessions to be ratified by Parliament before the start of operations.
“Ratification of mineral rights has been a major concern for Parliament and as a member of the Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament, I was part of the people who insisted that we ratify all concessions before they start operations.
“If approved to support the sector minister, we will insist that all concessions are ratified by Parliament before operations. As a member of the Mines Committee, we supported and engineered a lot of the concessions to be ratified and I know not less than 20 of the large-scale concessions have been ratified in Parliament and we will continue to insist that we get the concessions ratified before they start operations,” he assured.