The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has said that all illegal miners will be engaged in tree planting and other reclamation programmes to help restore lands affected by the illegal activity.

According to him, this could serve as an alternative source of livelihood for the illegal miners who have been ordered to cease their activities.

Speaking on Eyewitness News on Monday, the Minister said, the government through a 5-year Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) will roll out a livelihood empowerment project for the illegal miners to create an employment avenue for them.

“For those who want to be engaged in the mining activities, they will be absorbed into the MMIP. With the reclamation across this country, it is estimated that about 1.5% of the earth surface has been degraded as a result of this activity.

That alone is going to provide jobs for the communities that want to re-engage in reclamation and planting of trees.

The MMIP is an attempt to absorb all factory hands engaged in illegal activities to be absorbed back within a period of 5 years where exploration activities will be done in areas that are prospective and these factory hands will be brought here to mine,” he said.

Mr. Amewu added that, the government wanted to ensure that the sector is sanitized and devoid of illegal miners to ensure effective regulation and protection of the country’s environment.

Many communities in Ghana are currently suffering the negative effects of galamsey which has left most of Ghana’s fresh water bodies poisonous.

Thousands of acres of fertile farmlands have also been destroyed as a result of galamsey. Although Ghana’s laws are clear on illegal mining, the activity has been allowed to continue for more than two decades.

Citi FM has been at the forefront of media advocacy and crusade for action against the illegal activity. The station has among other things petitioned Parliament to act to stop the illegal activity.

Some illegal miners have challenged government’s fight against the menace, indicating that they do not have an alternative source of livelihood.

But the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has said that government will provide an alternative source of livelihood for them.

He noted that, until the reclamation exercise is completed, the illegal miners will not be allowed to engage in any form of mining activity.

Threats of losing votes in election In a related development, Mr. Peter Amewu has said that he will not compromise his fight against galamsey over the fear of losing the votes of illegal miners at the next election.

Although some of the illegal miners have threatened not to vote for the incumbent government over their stance on illegal mining, the Minister said he would not renege on his efforts to stop the menace which has serious negative effect on the country’s environment.

According to him, although the government seeks the interest of the minority illegal miners, it will not sacrifice the collective interest of the country for them.