That, he said was because over 60 per cent earth moving equipment imported into the country for road construction were diverted to the forest for illegal mining.
Mr Amewu, who took his turn before Parliament’s Appointments Committee on January 31, said the government would also ensure that the operations of the Minerals Commission (MC) are decentralised in the mining related areas.
He said that would help the country regulate and benefit from operations of galamsey operators.
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) stated in its manifesto that it would reconstruct the small-scale mining industry so that its activities could take place within guidelines set up under the appropriate regulations.
This will enable small-scale miners to work and earn their livelihoods in a regulated, secure and lawful environment.
He underscored the need for the mining sector to remain a major backbone of Ghana’s economy and the leading foreign exchange earner for the country.
“It is not only the largest tax contributor, it also accounts for about 40 per cent of mechanised exports, while attracting foreign investments running into hundreds of millions of US dollars annually,” he said.
Impacts of illegal mining
The policy advisor said it could not be disputed that mining done on any scale impacts on the environment and that is why there are regular checks by designated authorities to ensure that mining concerns work according to laid down rules.
According to him, unregulated mining, however, escapes all the necessary checks and results in massive destruction of the environment.
For a long time, he said illegal mining had become the bane of many communities, with the communities resigning themselves to the destruction visited on their water bodies and farmlands because the authorities are at their wits’ end concerning the appropriate steps to take to halt the menace.
Adopting stiffer punishment
Mr Amewu said there was the need for stiffer punishment for persons who flout the law by engaging in illegal mining.
“Dealing with the issue of illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’ will be key on the agenda of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources,” he indicated.
He added that he ensure a full enforcement of laws against illegal mining in the country.
“As a country, we must begin to enforce som e of these laws. If the house gives me the nod, I am not going to take it lightly at all, if you refuse to do the right thing, the law will get you, and I am going to apply the law to address ‘galamsey’ issue in the country,” he said.
“I’m not a minister for party executives, I am a minister for the republic of Ghana and for the purpose of intergenerational equity, we must leave something down for our generation to come and see. So, irrespective of your party colour, irrespective of who owns the land, irrespective of your family background, the law will be applied,” he said.
The minister admitted that “not all the small scale miners are doing illegal mining. Those that are doing the right thing we will need to help them, and so through training we should be able to assist them to do the right one. The recalcitrant ones will be made to face the law.”
Ghana has over the last decade suffered the effects of widespread illegal mining activities in various regions of the country.