Stakeholders call for review of Minerals and Mining Act

Stakeholders at a forum on mining in Koforidua have called for a review of the country’s Minerals and Mining Act 2006, to address some human rights violations within the mining communities. The participants said the current Mining Act had so many weaknesses that did not serve for the good of the nation hence the need for review of the law. According to the participants, the five percent royalty being paid by mining companies in respect of the minerals obtained from mining operations was meager and that it should be adjusted to 25 percent considering the negative impact mining had on its surrounding communities. They also called for an effective tracking of the usage of the royalty, especially in the development of the affected communities. The stakeholders said it was urgent that section 17 of the Act is repealed to protect the water bodies in the country. They said the rights being currently enjoyed by mining license holders which allowed them to obtain, divert, impound, convey and use water from a river, stream, underground reservoir or watercourse within the land, be repealed. The participants suggested that mining companies should not be permitted to mine to destroy any natural resource such as water bodies and the forests. The forum called for the provision for “no go zones” in the Act to protect the communities and the national landmarks. They called for the need to incorporate what is termed the “Polluter Pays Principle (PPP)” in the legal framework and to develop mechanisms for applying the PPP in line with international best practices. The stakeholders were of the view that the country should allot lands solely for agricultural purposes which should be devoid of mining activities to ensure that it produces food for the nation. They also implored government to retrieve all forest areas which had already been leased out to companies for mining purposes to ensure the full protection of those resources. The forum called for a ban on surface mining in the country but rather permit underground mining since the nation’s resources would be more protected under the latter. They also called for the reduction of the powers vested in the Minister of the Mineral Resources to grant mineral rights saying every agreement should go to Parliament for approval and should be scrutinised by a commission where affected communities would be represented. Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Director of WACAM, urged the stakeholders to remain patriotic and help in educating community members to appreciate the need to safeguard the nation’s natural resources and their own welfare.