It appears state institutions mandated to ensure responsible mining are themselves breaching the law by not enforcing same.
A ‘Performance Audit Report Of The Auditor-General On Regulating Reclamation Activities at Small-Scale Mining Sites’, shows clear breaches of the Mineral and Mining Regulations, 2012 and the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999.
The report indicts the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for failing to ensure that small-scale miners adhere to the polluter pay principle, which ensures that miners reclaim mined pits.
The report, which was conducted between January 2016 and December 2020, says an amount of over GHS 500,000 was not collected from 12 concessioners as reclamation bonds.
What the report said
In its summary, the report said, the activities of MC and EPA did not ensure that small-scale miners reclaim degraded mined sites to return them to their maximum beneficial value as required by the Mineral and Mining Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2182) and the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999 (L.I. 1652).
It added that EPA had not put the necessary measures in place to enforce the posting of reclamation bonds by SSM operators. While the Minerals Commission did not enforce the submission of operating plans by SSM companies/groups, both organizations failed to appropriately monitor and report on the extent of reclamation to ensure compliance.
In addition, the MC and EPA had not implemented procedures to verify and certify reclamation works.
“Poor enforcement of the laws has resulted in several pits filled with water on the concessions, which have become death threats to people who live or work around them”, the report further mentioned.
On concessions where some level of backfilling of pits had taken place, there were patches of heaps of sand, mini ponds and natural vegetation cover, indications that the operators failed to level the land, and plant economic
trees and nurture them as required.